Persimmons It's important you know there are two kinds of persimmons: the Fuyu, the kind you can eat right away, and the Hachiya, the kind you can't. If you bite into an unripe Hachiya persimmon, it is if you just drank six cups of extra strength tea. This astringent flavor is due to the high level of tannin in the fruit, and there is a good chance that you would never try a persimmon again because it tastes so bitter. This would be a shame because ripe persimmons have an exceptional flavor and provide us with important nutrients such as beta-carotene, Vitamin C and potassium.

China is the largest producer of persimmons, followed by Brazil, Japan, and Korea. The United States grows comparatively few persimmons compared to the major producers, but virtually all, of the domestic persimmon crop comes from California.

Selection & Storage
Hachiyas should be deep orange without any green (except at the stem) or yellow showing. They may occasionally have dark spots caused by sunburn, which is fine unless the flesh is sunken at those spots. There shouldn't be any breaks in the skin, but scarring caused by rubbing against tree branches during harvesting is harmless. When ripe, they should feel squishy, like a water balloon. Handle soft, ripe Hachiyas carefully to avoid breaking the skin, and keep refrigerated. Use them as soon as possible, within a few days at most. Unripe Hachiya persimmons can be ripened further by keeping them at room temperature for a week or more. To accelerate ripening, put them in a bag with a banana or an apple.

When selecting Fuyu persimmons, look for ones that are yellow-orange in color and firm to the touch. Fuyus will stay firm for two or three weeks at room temperature. Eventually, after about three weeks, they will soften somewhat like the Hachiya. At this stage, some people feel the Fuyu's sweetness reaches its peak.

Persimmon Nutrition Their crispness can be prolonged by refrigeration if the temperature remains close to freezing (32�F) but once the fruit is returned to room temperature, it will soften. Surprisingly, persimmons stored at normal refrigerator temperature, about 40�F, will actually deteriorate faster than if stored at room temperature (55�F.)

Even though, Fuyus look heartier than Hachiyas, they can also bruise easily. These bruises will not show externally, so they should be handled with care. Fuyus are ethylene sensitive and should not be stored near ethylene-producing fruit such as apples or bananas, when ripe.

Preparation
Hachiya skins are somewhat like tomato skins, although less intrusive. I've never felt the need to remove them, but if you want an absolutely pristine persimmon pulp, you can pur�e the ripe fruit in a food mill or strain the pur�e through a sieve.

The nature of the Hachiya persimmon is such that it is almost always used as a pur�e, in cookies, cakes, brownies, breads, puddings, flans, and sauces. Baking with ripe Hachiyas can sometimes reintroduce tannin, so it's best to add baking soda to the recipe to offset that possibility. Citrus juice will help prevent persimmons from darkening during baking.

To make an easy persimmon sorbet, just freeze the whole fruit and allow it to defrost slightly in the refrigerator. Peel back the skin, and spoon out the flesh. You can add a few drops of rum, bourbon, or brandy, all of which go well in persimmon preparations, or use seasonings such as ginger, vanilla, nutmeg, ground coriander and cinnamon. Persimmons, are a fall/winter fruit, so nuts such as hazelnuts, almonds, and walnuts go well with them, as do dried fruits such as raisins and prunes. Orange juice, orange liqueurs, and brown sugar also match up nicely with persimmons.

Unlike Hachiyas, Fuyu persimmons can be eaten out of hand like an apple or pear, and there isn't any need to peel them. In fact, the California Grower's Association described them as crisp like an apple, sweet like a pear. A squeeze of lime perks up their flavor even more.

Fuyus can also be used like apples and pears in fruit salads, cobblers, or crisps, and are sturdy enough to be used in stir-fries as well. Fuyus do not darken when cut, so they can be sliced and made part of a vegetable or fruit tray.

Tony's Tip
To speed up ripening of Hachiya persimmons and eliminate the tannin, put them in the freezer for twenty-four hours. Then defrost and use as you would a perfectly ripe persimmon.

Persimmon Seasons Tony's Favorite Recipe
Persimmon Smooothie

Varieties
Hachiya is a beautiful fruit about the size of a medium peach, acorn-shaped with a shiny, bright orange skin and pale green papery calyx, or leafy cap. At one time 90 percent of the persimmons sold in the United States were the Hachiya variety; now they only account for approximately 20%. Many people, some of whom have never tasted the persimmon, merely use this beautiful fruit as holiday table decorations, since they are at their peak in late fall and early winter. As the fruit ripens, the skin dulls and takes on the texture of a water balloon. The astringent tannin evaporates and the fruit becomes sweeter with an apricot-like flavor, although some liken the flavor to plums, even pumpkins.

Fuyu persimmons, now representing almost 80 percent of the persimmon market, are squatter and rounder than the Hachiya. The color is a yellow-orange and not as brilliant as the Hachiya. It almost looks like a mini pumpkin or perhaps a slightly flattened tomato, but unlike the Hachiya, the Fuyu can be consumed immediately. It is crisp, lightly sweet and crunchy, like a Fuji apple. If you're wondering why you don't see more Fuyus in your local markets, it's because they are primarily funneled into ethnic markets where the demand is high.

There are more obscure persimmon varieties found mainly in California or specialty markets elsewhere. These obscure varieties include the reddish orange Giant Fuyu, the "Chocolate" varieties of persimmon because of their dark flesh and faint chocolate flavor, the attractive red-orange Maru, and the Hyakume, whose skin color ranges from pale yellow to orange.


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