In Season: Persimmons

by in In Season, December 30, 2008


Finding uses for this ancient Chinese delicacy may seem intimidating, but persimmons are versatile. Just be sure to catch them while you can! They are in season from October through January.

What to look for: Two common varieties are Hachiya and Fuyu; they differ slightly in appearance but have unique textures and flavors. Hachiya persimmons are round with one pointy end (think: super-sized acorn). With bright orange skin and dark green leaves, they taste best when very ripe and soft. Beware: unripe Hachiya can be extremely bitter because of their high tannin content. (Tannins are what make your mouth feel dry when you drink some red wines.) With a tomato-like texture, ripe Hachiya persimmons are soft and sweet and taste similar to an apricot.

Fuyu persimmons may be lighter in color and are shorter and rounder than Hachiya. Best when firm and crisp, they taste more like sweet apples or pears and can be eaten the same way — just grab and crunch!

Their benefits: Tastiness aside, we love persimmons because they’re an excellent source of vitamin A, which keeps skin and eyes healthy. They’re also high in fiber, which aids in digestion and may help lower cholesterol. Chinese medicine credits them with curing everything from hiccups to bee stings to constipation. And, yes, because they’re so high in fiber, enjoy in moderation — just to be safe (you know what we mean).

To serve: Add Hachiya persimmons to hot or cold cereals and smoothies, puree in sauces for poultry or fish or slice one in half and spoon out the tender, orange pulp for a sweet snack. Chopped Fuyu works well in salads and salsas or baked in muffins and breads.

Shopping tip: Choose persimmons that have smooth and glossy skin. Pick Hachiya that are soft and Fuyu that are firm. Store in the refrigerator and dig in as soon as possible — they’re highly perishable.

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