Persnickety Persimmon

My first experience with a persimmon that I received in my box was not pleasant. I was anxious to try this exotic little wonder and when I pressed on the flesh, it seemed to give a little. I double checked my sources, and found that one can eat them fresh picked or ripened for a few days on the counter. Maybe I could wait a few days… On the third day I decided it was ready. I cut into it and sliced off a small morsel to try. Immediately I felt like I had swabbed the inside of my mouth with Sea Breeze (an astringent facial cleaner) and was eating a handful of fur. I seriously thought I was having some sort of allergic reaction. Why on earth would anyone want to eat one of these things?

What I now know is that there are two varieties of persimmon grown in the U.S. today; the acorn/heart-shaped Hachiya, and the squatty, tomato-shaped Fuyu model.

Hachiya

The Hachiya variety (which is what I had tried initially) has a high level of tannins and is very astringent and bitter when unripe (really??). When fully ripe the flesh of the fruit becomes almost like a thick jelly and the skin can split and become very thin. To speed up ripening you can add a few persimmons to a paper bag with an apple or banana and leave on the counter.

Fuyu

Fuyu, or the non-astringent variety on the other hand can be eaten when they are still very firm but also when very soft as well, as the flavor intensifies when ripened.

Persimmons begin to appear in the CSA boxes and at the farmers markets in October/November and are around usually until late December/January.

So, what’s the best way to enjoy a persimmon? I love the Fuyu style just sliced thinly on it’s own. Pairs wonderfully with goat cheese as snack or appetizer, try cutting off the tops and brushing a few of them with some lemon or lime juice and honey and broiling them for 6-8 minutes, slice and serve with the goat cheese or your favorite spreadable cheese. They add wonderful color and texture to a butter lettuce or romaine salad alongside candied walnuts or pecans and again, some goat or a semi soft cheese of your choosing.

I would sub in a persimmon for an apple in stuffing, chicken salad, on a toasted cheese sandwich – the possibilities are endless! Persimmon jam is a popular favorite in the fall, heavenly with cream cheese on a bagel. I would encourage you to develop a taste for them – Dr. Oz recommends eating persimmon to keep your heart healthy!

A must try for this week — Mizuna, Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad with Orange Dressing!!