December 1, 2020

Persimmon: the Unicorn of Fruits

In my local grocery store a few years back, I spotted dark orange pieces of fruit resembling miniature pumpkins in the exotic produce section. The sign said “Persimmons.” And they were $3 a piece which is fairly pricey for one small piece of fruit.

With a spirit of adventure, I opted for one that was plump, shiny and hard. I cut it open at home and was met with the worst chalky taste in my mouth. I spit out the fruit flesh with a “yecch” to punctuate my revulsion.

A friend who is much savvier than me about unusual food stuffs let me know that persimmons need to be so ripe that they look and feel like water balloons.

Back to the store I went and found one persimmon that was nigh on bursting with ripeness. As instructed, I pulled off the leaves on top and spooned the fruit out of the bottom part. What a delightful experience. The taste was sweet, but not cloying and the consistency was that of pudding. I had inadvertently found my favorite fall treat. This uncommon fruit is only available in autumn to early winter and only in select stores.

Unfortunately, many produce workers throw out what appears to be over-ripe persimmons. I literally bird-dog purveyors in hopes of catching staff before they discard this orange beauty. If you buy an unripe persimmon, it frequently never gets soft enough to eat without that awful chalky, bitter taste.

I have only found two varieties of persimmons in Whole Foods and Mariano’s (Kroger’s) stores: Fuyu and my preferred Hachiya, but I am still on the look-out for Sheng and Saijo types. Some refer to persimmons as the “apples of Asia.”

Besides eating persimmons by themselves, one can find recipes that use them in oatmeal dishes, persimmon chia pudding, persimmon bars and scones, cranberry persimmon salsa (Thanksgiving perhaps?), persimmon prosciutto grilled cheese sandwiches, persimmon chicken, kale persimmon salad, persimmon arugula pasta, sorbets, tarts, upside down cakes, puddings and persimmon corn bread.

Hurry before the all-too-brief persimmon season is over. A very ripe Hachiya persimmon is indeed the unicorn in the produce department.

20 recipes with persimmons:

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.