They are delightful! They’ve got gorgeous color - like the luminous orange of maple leaves in autumn. Their taste is superbly described by Allison Berler of treehugger.com: “Persimmons taste like no other fruit. They have a silky, slippery texture, and taste kind of like the fabulous fruity love child of a mango and a roasted sweet pepper, with some cinnamon and dates in the background. A ripe persimmon is rich and tangy and sweet, all at the same time.” These complex tastes promise versatility. Use them in an appetizer, soup, salad or dessert.
There are two major types of persimmon: astringent and non-astringent. Pear-shaped Hachiyas are astringent, and, therefore, tricky. Never eat an unripe Hachiya. Your mouth will pucker as it has never puckered! It’s not pleasant. But eat a Hachiya when it is perfectly ripe and you will be in gustatory heaven. Don’t wait long. Hachiyas rapidly turn overripe and unpleasantly mushy. It’s best to stick with Fuyus, the round ones with flat tops. They belong to the non-astringent variety and can be eaten while ripening and are wonderful at peak ripeness.
Here are my favorite ways of using persimmons.
Peel, slice and eat. One of my favorite fruits, the sweet, honey-like, slightly spicy fruit is delicious, needing no embellishments.
Persimmon and Basil Leaf Wrapped in Prosciutto
Prosciutto paired with basil and fruit is always a winner. In autumn, pairing honeyed/spicy persimmon and spicy basil with prosciutto matches the taste with the season, each of the three elements contributing some sweetness along with sharp and spicy notes.
Persimmon with Herbs
This soup always produces raves. One friend likes it so much she always asks me to make some for her holiday parties. She serves it warm in pretty little cups as an amuse bouche, because, she says, its charm always sets the perfect tone for her parties. This persimmon soup is primarily savory in flavor with background sweetness. It delivers an overall taste that is hard to describe but definitely makes melodies in the mouth. It freezes well and can be made two days ahead.
Make it a stunning presentation for special occasions by serving the soup in small pumpkin bowls, as in the Halloween dinner in The Dish on Dazzling Dinners. Just scoop most of the flesh from small sugar pumpkins and paint the stem gold.
To serve 8.
6 tablespoons butter
3 small leeks, white and light green parts only, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
6 cups chicken stock, preferably home-made
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ teaspoons pepper
6 ripe Fuyu persimmons, roughly chopped
Over medium heat, melt the butter in a 4-5 quart pot. Add leeks and sauté 3 -5 minutes, until soft. Add sage, thyme and rosemary and cook for about 1 min. Add chicken stock, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to boil. Lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until leeks are very soft. (You may freeze or refrigerate at this point.)
Add persimmons and simmer for 5 minutes. Puree in blender. Gently reheat. Do not allow to boil.
Persimmon, Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate Seeds
Sweet fruit with greens, especially a bitter variety such as arugula, gets high scores in the realm of salad. Adding ruby pomegranate seeds to the warm orange of persimmons contrasts perfectly and gorgeously with the green. While arugula is my go-to for such salads, I tried Brussels sprouts. Good change! The mild cabbage flavor combined nicely with the slices of persimmon, all enhanced by the tangy vinaigrette made of Champagne vinegar, canola oil and a touch of mustard. To make a pretty picture, I arranged persimmon slices around thin slivers of Brussels sprouts, placing in the center a “cup” of a large leaf of Brussels sprouts filled with pomegranate seeds.
This quick bread makes a pleasant, not overly sweet, dessert. After a heavy meal it is just right. And if the meal wasn’t too heavy, serve it with ice cream. It’s also a pleasing accompaniment to a hot and hearty soup, especially for lunch. As a snack with coffee or tea - splendid!
1/3 cup (5 1/2 teaspoons) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 1/4 cups peeled Fuyu persimmon, processed into small bits
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350F. Butter 2 4x8 loaf pans.
In a large bowl mix together the butter, sugar and eggs.
Combine the dry ingredients.
Stir the dry ingredient alternately with the half-and-half into the butter mixture.
Fold in the persimmon bits and pecan pieces.
Spoon butter into prepared pans. Bake for about 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean.