5 Ways to Eat The Most Underrated Fruit of the Fall/Winter Season
Consider persimmons your cold weather counterpart to sweet and juicy summer peaches. For just about all of the ways you’d typically utilize ripe peaches throughout the hot summer months, persimmons make a beautiful standin when the weather cools down. The fruit, prominent in many Asian cultures’ culinary traditions, is one of the few worth getting truly excited for during the fall and winter months. You might’ve noticed them popping up in your local grocery stores and farmers markets within the last few weeks with the onset of chillier days, and perhaps glazed right over them, not quite sure what they were.
The most common varieties found in U.S. grocery stores are fuyu and hachiya. The fuyu persimmon looks like a yellow-orange version of tomatillos with a stem and broad, dry leaves protruding from the top. Hachiya persimmons have a slightly more oblong shaped body and present a more burnt orange color when fully ripened. Neither variety has a core or seeds, therefore, you can eat the entire thing, except for the stem and rough outer leaves.
So, supposing you pick a few up on your next grocery run (p.s. you should)... how exactly do you eat a persimmon? Persimmons can be enjoyed raw, as you would snack on an apple, or you can find plenty of creative ways to bake and cook with them. The soft, sweet flesh tastes like a cross between honey and dates. However, be aware that hachiya persimmons need to ripen fully before you bite into one; this variety is high in tannins and can be very astringent and bitter before it’s ripened. Fuyus can be eaten while they are still fairly firm, but just let the hachiyas sit out on the counter for a few days to soften before consumption. To expedite the ripening, give them the avocado treatment by placing your persimmons in a closed brown paper bag. And then, all that’s left to do is enjoy them; here are a few of my favorite ways.
With the wildly successful career that avocado toast has seen over the past few years, toast is once again the thing to do for breakfast. And folks, let me tell you, your persimmons definitely want to get in on the action. Cut a persimmon into slices, discard the bottle top portion with the leaves and stem. Toast your favorite hearty sliced bread and smear on a neutral creamy dairy layer, such as cream cheese, mascarpone cheese, or ricotta cheese. Place the sliced persimmons on top and drizzle with honey or maple syrup. Easy, elegant, and awesome. Not a fan of dairy? Try a nut butter instead.
This goes for both big, fluffy leafy green and grain salads—just quarter a persimmon and toss it in. Persimmons add a juicy, sweet element to a salad that’s especially great to cut the sometimes bitter green taste. Since quinoa and farro are relatively quick-cooking grains, make a batch for dinner and carry the leftovers to work the next day (it will be even more delicious after hanging out overnight in the fridge). Or maybe take the caprese route; layer persimmons slices between thick slabs of fresh mozzarella with a few fresh basil leaves, and finish with a pinch of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.
Tarts, Pies, and Galettes
Once you master how to make pie dough (or how to go to the frozen aisle and buy pie dough), you have various baked options you can utilize persimmons in. I can just about guarantee that your friends would love a rustic and autumnal persimmon galette, seasoned with cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg, to show up for brunch or Friendsgiving. Or go for a fancy tart topped with brandy mascarpone. If you are feeling really ambitious, try your skills at making a lattice topped pie featuring persimmons.
Breads and Muffins
Persimmons can be pureed and mixed into a batter for this highly comforting quick bread. Add some walnuts and dried raisins, and it’s a party. (Sidenote: This is a great loaf to ship to out-of-town family and friends for the holidays.) You can also simply mash ripened persimmons tender flesh to make a batch of cozy weekend morning muffins.
Jams and Preserves
In the case that you are toppling over with persimmons, jams/preserves are the way to go. The fruits are sweet enough that they only need a bit of additional sugar and some lemon juice to pull out their natural sweetness. Persimmons are actually quite high in pectin, so once they’re cooked down, the spread will thicken well on its own.