Persimmon facts and recipes

Oct 15, 2008 at 9:22 p.m. ET

Persimmon season is here! As they are gaining popularity throughout the United States, a juicy supply of persimmons should be showing up in your supermarket. This pumpkin-colored tender fruit is sweet and tangy and can be used in a variety of delectable recipes from beverages to desserts. If you aren't familiar with persimmons, here are some facts and recipes for this succulent fruit.


What is a persimmon?

If you have never tried a persimmon, but are ready to sink your teeth into its juicy flesh, it may help to know what to look for at the market.

A persimmon is a bright orange-colored fruit that looks almost like a tomato (no relation, they are actually more closely related to apples). Persimmons are usually about one to three inches in diameter and are tender to the touch.

Persimmons are in season from October to February but the peak months are November and December.

Selecting the perfect persimmon

The most important thing about persimmons is to eat them when they are ripe - otherwise they can be bitter.

Fuyu persimmons are commonly available and are ripe when the skin is deep orange and they are still firm to the touch but have a little give when pressed.

Hachiya persimmons, a Japanese variety less common in the United States, need to be very soft when you eat them. Hachiyas are more heart-shaped and larger than Fuyus, about three inches in diameter.

Choose persimmons with shiny skin and few blemishes.

You can also find dried persimmons at whole food markets or online. Dried persimmons are available year-round and have a longer shelf life.

How to store persimmons

Ripe persimmons go bad quickly, so only purchase what you can eat. Ripe persimmons can be refrigerated for a few days. Unripe persimmons should be ripened in a brown bag or a plastic container.

Persimmons can be eaten whole with or without the skin, fresh, cooked or dried.

Persimmon recipes

Persimmon Ginger Tea

Makes 8 servings

3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 pound fresh ginger, peeled, cut into 1/2-inch slices
12 ounces dried persimmons
1/4 pound pine nuts

1. Boil 10 cups of water, sugar, and ginger in a large pot. Let simmer for 5 minutes.

2. Take pot off of heat and mix in the persimmons. Let rest for about 2 hours to soften persimmons and allow the flavors to blend.

3. Strain mixture into a pitcher and chill until ready to serve (up to 3 days). When ready to serve, sprinkle pine nuts into teacups and serve chilled.

Persimmon Soup

Makes 6 servings

3-1/2 pounds ripe persimmons, peeled
1/2 cup minced onions
1-1/2 tablespoons minced ginger
4 cups chicken broth
1-1/2 teaspoons curry powder
Lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro

1. Combine persimmons, onions, ginger, and 1/4 cup broth in a large pot. Boil over high heat for about 10 minutes. Pour in another 1/4 cup of broth and cook for another 10 minutes. Continue adding chicken broth in 1/4 cup increments until you have 3 cups left.

2. Stir curry into mixture and cook 30 seconds. Add remaining broth and boil until persimmons are tender.

3. Puree persimmon mixture in a blender until smooth. Sprinkle with lemon juice, salt, pepper and cilantro. Serve warm.

Persimmon Pudding Cake

Makes 8 servings

2 cups persimmon pulp
4 eggs
1 stick butter, melted
3/4 cups milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
Whipped cream

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch square baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, combine pulp, eggs, butter, milk and vanilla. In a medium-sized bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice.

3. Gradually beat dry ingredients into wet ingredients. Mix in chopped nuts. Pour batter into prepared baking dish and bake about 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Top with whipped cream.

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