Various shades of orange are quite prominent at farmers’ markets this time a year, with the fall season in full swing.
Tables are piled high with crisp carrots, delicious pumpkins, and a variety of locally harvested oranges and tangerines are soon to come. Also adding to the vibrant orange presence are sweet persimmons, a fruit that truly delivers the essence of the season.
There are two main types of persimmons grown on the commercial level: hachiya and Fuyu. While both deliver a similar sweet flavor profile with an almost cinnamon-like finish, there are indeed some major differences.
Heart-shaped hachiya persimmons fall in the astringent category, meaning they contain high levels of soluble tannins. Such persimmons are only pleasing to the pallet when consumed completely ripe. Those who have attempted to bite down on an unripe hachiya persimmon have surely discovered the unpleasant bitterness that quickly follows.
Hachiya persimmons are best when enjoyed super soft, delivering a slippery texture that melts in your mouth. They possess a dark orange color when ready to eat.
This variety is great when scooped out with a spoon and enjoyed as is. It’s also excellent in smoothies, and it’s the best variety for incorporating into a host of baked goods such as breads, cookies and cakes.
Unlike hachiya persimmons, Fuyu persimmons are enjoyed more like an apple. Shaped like a saucer, this non-astringent variety delivers a soft crunch that is enjoyed when the fruit is still firm.
While Fuyu persimmons are sweet, their sugar levels do not quite reach that of their hachiya counterparts. The darker the orange, the softer and sweeter the Fuyu persimmon tends to be.
Fuyu persimmons are excellent when diced into your morning yogurt or cereal, when enjoyed as an afternoon snack, or when sliced thin and used to top a mixed green salad.
One of my favorite seasonal salads is spicy arugula topped with sliced Fuyu persimmon, shaved parmesan cheese, seasoned with freshly cracked pepper and topped with a light drizzle of olive oil and aged balsamic vinegar.
Fuyu persimmons are also delicious when used as the base of a homemade chutney or sweet salsa.
Persimmons make for a great addition to your seasonal diet. Like most foods possessing orange pigments, persimmons are an excellent source of beta-carotene, delivering approximately 55% of your daily recommended value in one medium persimmon. They are also a great source of vitamin C, dietary fiber, and manganese and a good source of potassium, copper, and phosphorus.
Once home, you want to store your persimmons on the countertop until ready to eat. Both hachiya and Fuyu persimmons will continue to ripen when stored in the manner, turning a darker orange color the longer they sit.
Hachiya persimmons are often brought to market and take about a week until ready to eat. This is because once soft, they are more difficult to transport. Fuyu persimmons, on the other hand, are usually ready to eat at time of purchase. Select persimmons with the darkest orange color for the sweetest flavor.
As mentioned, there are several ways to enjoy fresh persimmons.
This week I prepared fresh persimmon bread, which I often enjoy warm with a light spread of cream cheese or melted butter.
Hachiya Persimmon Bread
2 ripe hachiya persimmons (they should be very soft), about 1 cup of pulp needed.
1½ cup all-purpose flour.
½ teaspoon salt.
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon.
½ teaspoon ground ginger.
¾ cup granulated sugar.
1/3 cup vegetable oil.
1 teaspoon baking soda.
1/3 cup chopped walnuts.
1/3 cup raisins.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Discard the stem and skin portion of the persimmons and set aside. In a small bowl combine flour, salt, cinnamon, and ginger.
In a larger bowl combine egg, sugar and oil and mix well. Then mix in the persimmon pulp and baking soda to the sugar mixture. Slowly add the flour mixture to the larger bowl, and mix until well incorporated. Finish by working in the walnuts and raisins.
Bake for about 75 minutes, or until the top has a nice golden crust and a knife can be inserted and come out clean.