Persimmons are one of those fruits I had never even heard of until coming to San Diego. Then I came to San Diego to work on an organic farm in Valley Center- and I just remember seeing those beautiful, orange jewels dangling from the trees. I was so excited to taste one, and I definitely wasn’t disappointed when I did. I was lucky enough that when I moved to PB, a persimmon tree greeted me in the yard. I was immediately immersed in a world of this unknown fruit- and I had a lot of time to experiment.
What I first tasted was a Fuyu persimmon. It is the type that is eaten more like an apple. It is firm and you can just bite into it. The inside, if ripe, is the perfect balance of juicy and almost creamy. The skin can be a bit tough, but it is edible nonetheless. Fuyu persimmons are great in salads or just enjoyed as is. And the cross section- a serious example of nature’s paintbrush at work.
The other type of persimmon is the Hitachi persimmon. A bit larger than the Fuyu, the Hitahci need be incredibly ripe. It should almost feel like a water balloon, like you can hardly touch it without puncturing the skin. At the market they had tons of boxes to carry them out, as they would undoubtedly break and get all over your other produce/car/hands/whatever. The Hitachi persimmons are used more for cooking. From what I have learned, their pulp seems to hold the same place as super ripe bananas for banana bread or even applesauce. They bake well into a quick-bread of the like, but also cookies.
I have read you can also make marmalade with Hitachi persimmons- but, in all honesty, when these persimmons are so ripe, you can just use the persimmon itself atop toast and butter to sweeten it up. What a treat!
It should also be noted that these persimmons can be frozen and thawed if you’re not yet ready to use them as soon as they are purchased, and what’s more- a frozen persimmon- half thawed- eats like a delicious sorbet. All natural, no sugar added.
I still have a lot to learn about persimmons, sure. But I can tell you after some culinary experimentation and taste tests, persimmons are not only versatile, but so tasty. Like I said, they taste like sugar. What’s not to love?
Here is a recipe for you using Hitachi persimmons. A Bundt cake is always impressive, but a persimmon Bundt cake? Extra fancy!
Adapted from this recipe
Enjoy, and Merry Christmas!