Persimmons: A winter super food

Dec 2, 2010 at 12:27 p.m. ET

An often forgotten about fruit, the persimmon, is extremely healthy and can be considered a super food due to its antioxidant power. They are in season until December and make the perfect holiday fruit for festive dishes and desserts.


Nutrition and health

Persimmons are a very healthy fruit to eat with only 120 calories and 0 grams of fat. They have high amounts of Vitamins A and C, along with cancer fighting phytochemicals. They are also good sources of iron, calcium, and dietary fiber. Because of their bright orange color, they are heart healthy and can help stave off vision problems. Persimmons also have no sodium or cholesterol which makes them good to eat for those with sodium or cholesterol problems. Persimmons are very popular in Asian culture and persimmons are often used as a natural remedy for hiccups, diarrhea, sweating, and bleeding. However, as with any newly introduced food, eat it in moderation and consult a doctor before using it for treatment of any kind.

>>>More on the health benefits of orange fruits and vegetables

Selection and storage

Look for persimmons in markets from September through February. You will most likely find one of two types, either Fuyu, which looks like a tomato, or Hachiya, which is larger and heart shaped. Both have a sweet taste when ripe, but are slightly bitter when unripe. When selecting persimmons, make sure they are a bright orange color with no marks or noticeable soft spots. The Hachiya variety will be fairly soft when ripe and the Fuyu variety will still be pretty firm when ripe and ready to eat. Ripe persimmons should be eaten quickly because they can easily spoil, but if you don't want to eat them right away, purchase them unripe and you can ripen them at room temperature. Persimmons can be refrigerated or frozen when ripe and will still keep their sweet taste.

>>>More about Persimmons

How to prepare persimmons

Persimmons can of course be eaten raw and whole, just like an apple or they can be dried in slices and used as a quick snack. You can also use persimmons in many sweet and savory dishes. Cakes, pies, cookies, bread, tarts, and muffins all taste great with persimmons. Also persimmons can be served in salads, chutneys, jams, salsas, vegetable dishes, or simply with meat and cheese. Each recipe may have you preparing the persimmons a different way but in general, you should carefully (they bruise easily) rinse them, let them dry, then slice them in half and scoop out the seeds and pulp (discarding the skin).

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