What are these things — coral colored, some of them, pumpkin colored, others – elegant and elongated like an acorn, or squatty and round like a tomato?
Meet one of nature’s best fall gifts – persimmons, jewelry for the tree while hanging, sweet as candy when plucked and eaten.
I’d like to introduce you to four varieties today – two common, and two a bit more rare but worth seeking out. You’ll find this quartet in stores now, for $2-$3 a pound, and well worth every penny.
Each is different. All are delicious and worthy of your culinary attention.
The custardy flesh of a Hachiya, soft and squishy as jelly when it is ripe, makes a sweet, candy-like dessert. Those lucky enough to have a bountiful tree in their yard might even have enough to be able to save the flesh and freeze it for use throughout the year. We must patiently wait until it is ripe, and then dig into the gelatinous goo. But woe is you if you try to eat a Hachiya before its time. This is known as an astringent variety, which means it will be bitter, unpleasant and maybe even painful unless it is perfectly, squishy-ripe. It will suck the spit right out of your mouth with its soluble tannins. You have been warned. But when it IS ripe, you have also been warned that you might become addicted; that’s how good it is.
Cinnamon Persimmons are a sub variety of Hachiya, except this kind isn’t astringent, so you can eat it when firm or slightly soft. The outside tends towards pale yellow, and the inside is speckled with cinnamon-colored flecks. This is a favorite variety of many people in the produce industry. Heed them.
The crisp Fuyu is also much more forgiving than a Hachiya, since you eat it when it is firm. Think of it like an apple, in that it is crisp, you eat the skin, and all you need remove is the top green leaves and maybe a small center core. I often slice Fuyus and simply adorn the dinner plate with an extra sweet Fuyu crunch. One benefit is they won’t oxidize, so if you pack them sliced for lunch, they hold up without discoloring.
The Organic Sweet Pumpkin Persimmon is even sweeter than a Fuyu, a bit smaller, and eaten firm and crisp, like an apple. No need to peel the skin, unless you want to. These are gorgeous and delicious. Centerpiece or center of the plate? You decide.
What can you do with persimmons?
Hachiyas: pudding, ice cream, quick bread, cookies, sauces and even to sweeten smoothies. In Japan, they are dried, and prized in that preparation.
Fuyu or other firm varieties: Eaten out of hand like an apple, baked into pies or crisps or crumbles (like an apple), chopped for salsa, sliced with cheese for an appetizer or as part of a salad. Let your imagination soar!
Stay tuned for upcoming recipes using persimmons!
Thanks to Melissa’s Produce  for sending samples of the persimmons.