A couple of weeks ago, I was asked by a group of young friends to describe what a persimmon tastes like… and I was actually speechless. Words can't do justice to these beautiful seasonal fruits.
I keep an old metal bike basket on my kitchen counter overflowing with these beauties. Anyone who comes to visit is typically sent home with a few to snack on, and I’m known to eat several a day raw, just like a peach or an apple.
Because our persimmon tree is so overly ambitious, every fall I find myself in the same predicament, asking myself what to do with the overabundance of fruit. And every year I add to my list of recipes and ideas (dried persimmon garland, anyone?), and I freeze several bags of persimmon pulp. I can thaw a bag any time of year and cook something that tastes like fall.
This decadent, smooth and rich fruit just can’t be described in a few words. You’ll just have to try one for yourself to see what I mean.
There are two types of persimmons, and biting into each will give you a completely different experience — I’m talking a heaven- or hell-type experience. The first time I bit into a persimmon, being a naive teenager, I didn’t know “certain” persimmons were for cooking only. The experience of standing so innocently in that persimmon orchard and biting into that tannic, astringent fruit was so scary, it took me most of my adult life to give this fruit another try. Ask anyone who has ever made the same mistake I did, and they’ll understand — my throat felt like someone stuffed bitter chalk into my mouth, and I was convinced for a few minutes that my taste buds would never return to normal ever again.
Apparently I had bitten into a Hachiya persimmon, slightly pointed at the bottom and wonderful for cooking (or decorating), but not to be eaten raw unless extremely ripe. Later in life, I discovered Fuyu persimmons, incredibly sweet, flat and rounded on the bottom, which you can pluck before it’s soft and eat raw.
Persimmons are wonderful for cooking. Not only do they lend a beautiful, bright color, but they are moist and give an unusually nice texture to baked goods. Admittedly this recipe uses a bunch of bowls, so make a little extra room on your counter.
To make this fancy enough for a feast, top with the optional sliced fruit, and garnish with powdered sugar, or serve with a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla bean ice cream. Who’s hungry?
To make persimmon puree, quarter very soft persimmons, and discard the seeds. (No need to peel first.) Blend until smooth and no chunks remain.
Yields 2 loaves
Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 50 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 20 minutes
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