Persimmons aren’t as common as many fruits in the United States, but they are a great choice. Tasty and nutritious, persimmons are a great addition to your diet. Eating this fruit is a great way to add a slightly exotic fruit to your diet for an affordable price.
Persimmons are in season during the fall and early winter, making them an excellent choice for something sweet and juicy during a time of the year where there may be fewer choices in produce.
What type of fruit is a persimmon?
You may be surprised to learn that the persimmon is considered a berry. While persimmons do not look like a traditional berry, they are not the only member of the family that may surprise you. Tomatoes and oranges, for example, are considered berries.
Where did persimmons come from?
Persimmons have the distinction of being one of the oldest fruits purposefully cultivated in Asia. Records show that the fruit has been intentionally grown in the region for over 2,000 years. The persimmon grows in a variety of Asian countries, including Japan, China, and Korea.
The cultivar known as the Japanese persimmon is the most widely grown and includes both the Fuyu and Hachiya varieties, the two varieties that grow easily in the US. There is a variety of persimmon that grows wild in the US, but it is not typically available in grocery stores.
What are the types of persimmons?
It is relatively easy to recognize the different types once you know what you are looking for. These are the two common types of persimmons commercially available in the United States:
The Hachiya persimmon is shaped similarly to an acorn, while the Fuya is short and round, similar to a tomato.
The Hachiya is an astringent variety of persimmon. That means that it must be fully ripe before you eat it. Biting into an unripe Hachiya is a mistake you will only make once. Once ripe. However, they are wonderfully sweet.
You can tell that the Hachiya is ready to eat when the skin turns a translucent orange. The flesh will have a gel-like texture. Hachiya persimmons are typically harvested before they ripen but will ripen easily on your counter with no special treatment.
To ripen the Hachiya more quickly, place it in a paper bag with a ripe banana or apple. The gas given off by the ripe fruit will hasten the ripening of the persimmon.
The Fuyu persimmon does not have the same astringent properties as the Hachiya and can be eaten before it softens. The smooth texture and mild taste make it a great choice for eating plain, like an apple.
What do persimmons taste like?
It is difficult to describe the exact taste of persimmons, as it is so different from other fruits. A ripe persimmon is sweet with a slightly tangy or spicy undertone. The unique but pleasant flavor makes the persimmon a great addition to salads.
Persimmons, like many fruits, are rich in vitamins and other nutrients. Their bright, rich color indicates that they are a good source of antioxidants. They are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. Persimmons are also a good way to add fiber to your diet.
Related: Is it costly to eat healthfully?
How to eat the two types of persimmons
There are many different ways to enjoy persimmons!
This variety should only be eaten when ripe. If you attempt to eat the Hachiya while it is still firm it will be extremely tart and astringent.
If you have ever eaten a Hachiya persimmon before it was ripe, you may not think you like the fruit. The taste changes dramatically as they ripen. It is tempting to tear into a Hachiya before they are fully ripe because you may worry the fruit is overripe.
The Hachiya should be soft to the point where it feels fragile when you touch it. At this point, it is ready to eat.
Given the texture of the ripe Hachiya, you may wonder how to eat the fruit. You can use a spoon and scoop out the pulp. It is delicious eaten as-is, or you can use it as an addition to baked goods, smoothies, or hot cereal.
The Fuyu persimmon can be eaten like an apple. While it will soften somewhat the riper, it becomes, it is generally easy to pick up and eat out of hand. Fuyu persimmons are also a good choice to brighten up a salad. Fuyu’s slices can be added to a salad with or without the skin.
Tips to preserve persimmons
If you have more persimmons than you can eat before they go bad, there are several things you can do:
- Both types of persimmons make excellent jam. The jam is easy to make and adds a bright note to your morning toast.
- Persimmons also freeze well. Don’t freeze the persimmons whole. Instead, scoop the flesh out and freeze it. To make it easier to use later, freeze in small amounts, such as ½ cup scoops. This way, you can easily pull out what you need without waste.