Persimmons pop up in the stores around the holiday season but do you know what they taste like or how to use them? After visiting a persimmon orchard in Northern California, I wanted to share a few fun how-to's and guides for using this festive fruit. The texture of a persimmon is like a smooth cantaloupe with the flavors of mellon and cinnamon in every bite. When I was a kid, I loved eating bags full of homegrown persimmons from our neighbor's yard and I get a little nostalgic spotting them at the store when the seasons change and the temperature drops. Whether you are a persimmon aficionado or have never tried one before, I hope you use this guide to fall in love with this curious fruit even more.
Mini Guide: Persimmons
Season: Fall - Winter
This persimmon mini guide will help you discover this vibrant orange, cold-weathered fruit. Around the holiday season, persimmons start popping up in the markets and grocery stores which might make you wonder, "how do I eat a persimmon?", "what type of persimmon is for baking vs, eating raw?", or "how do I store persimmons?", and other persimmon related ponderings. Don't worry, I've got you covered with this persimmon guide!
From October to about February.
How Do I Eat a Persimmon?
Before you eat a persimmon, you need to make sure the fruit has fully ripened. If the fruit isn't ripe the texture and flavor will be unpleasantly astringent and chalky. Some persimmon varieties are recommended to be peeled first while others can be eaten with the skin still on. Some persimmons also have sharp center seeds that should be eaten around or removed before consuming. While there are many persimmon varieties, there are typically only two types at the store - Hachiya and Fuyu.
Hachiya Persimmons: Shaped like an oval heart, this variety takes a long time to ripen and should be eaten when the fruit is overly ripe and the skin feels as squishy as a water balloon. This persimmon variety is perfect for cooking and has almost a custard-like texture when fully ripe. The fruit's skin can be very astringent so it should be peeled before eating.
Fuyu Persimmons: Shaped like a round, squatty steak tomato, this variety can be eaten just like an apple when the fruit is ripe. Determining the ripeness of a fuyu persimmon might be difficult because the fruit will remain firm through the ripening process. It is personal preference whether you want to eat the skin or not but if unripe, the skin will taste chalky and unpleasant. However, if the fruit is ripe and the skin has a slight give, the fuyu skin is delicious and has a lot of fiber and vitamins.
How do I Store Persimmons?
Persimmons ripen best out on the kitchen countertop; the ripening process is slow and can take a few weeks. Once the persimmons are ripe, you can store them in the refrigerator to extend their shelf-life. Because the ripening process is so slow, the technique of sealing unripe persimmons in a bag with apples for a few days has shown to be effective (although I have not personally tried this technique).
Persimmons are great for baking or incorporating into desserts. Popular persimmon recipes include persimmon bread or persimmon pudding.
Complimenting flavors and ingredients: Brandy, cinnamon, cream, ice cream, grapes, hazelnuts, honey, lemon, orange, pecans, pomegranates, brown sugar, vanilla, and walnuts.
What are Hoshigaki Persimmons?
Hoshigaki persimmons are hachiya persimmons that are dried using a traditional Japanese technique. After peeling the hachiya persimmons, they are hung on a string and dried for about 6 weeks outside in the open air. During the drying process, the persimmons are delicately hand massaged and rotated to make an exceptionally tender treat. When the persimmons are ready, they are squeezed a final time so the concentrated sugars ooze out of the persimmon skin and form a white, sugar like coating. I was lucky enough to see the hoshigaki persimmon drying process first hand in Northern California, click here to see my post about my visit to this family-run orchard.
What is a Vodka Persimmon?
Vodka persimmons are made from unpollinated hachiya persimmons, which are very bitter. By placing 8 to 10 drops of vodka on the green stem of a picked persimmon and sealing it in a plastic bag, turns the bitterness into a sweet flavor. Oh, the magic of vodka!
Other Persimmon Varieties
There are quite a few varieties with different shapes and colors. Besides for the common hachiya and fuyu persimmons, there are also cinnamon, chocolate, and gyombo varieties.
The average persimmon has about 118 calories and is a great source of fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, manganese.
Sorry, not sorry if you are now craving this cold-seasoned fruit! What persimmon recipes are you going to cook up?
Sources: Ripening technique discussion, Nutrition Facts
*The Amazon products linked on this page are products I used to research the culinary flavors and uses of persimmons. If you purchase any of the items through the Amazon affiliate links I have provided, I receive a small commission on the items purchased. This in no way influences the items I recommend or raises the price of the items for you. I only add items to my posts that I use and think you will love just as much and I do!
Jo Betts says
My husband and I have an orchard in Northern CA where we allow customers to pick their own persimmons at $1 a pound. I love watching their excitement as they hop from one tree to another. Some say it’s therapeutic being in the solitude of the countryside.
Michele Sidorenkov, RDN says
That is so awesome, thank you for sharing Jo! I absolutely love 'you pick' orchards and persimmons are so special. I hope you are having a great harvest this year!