The fall harvest brings in the bright sweetness of apples and the warm richness of pumpkins and squash. It’s also the season of persimmons, a somewhat less common fall fruit. Typically in season from September to December, persimmons are likely to be at the local farmers market around this time of year.
There are several types of persimmons, and the key is to know which kinds are astringent and which are sweet. The astringent persimmons are still a wonderful food when they’re ripe. If you’ve ever had an unripe persimmon, the experience is memorable. Often described as “furry,” for me the experience was akin to trying to eat a sweet yet dense cotton ball. It doesn’t taste like a good idea, and eating a lot of unripe persimmon can cause digestive problems.
The two commonly found types of persimmons are the hachiya and fuyu persimmons, which originated in Asia and are now grown in the U.S. and elsewhere. Fuyu persimmons are sweet, and are can be eaten while still a little firm. They’re more squat, and kind of doughnut-shaped.
The hachiya persimmon will be sweet only when it’s very ripe or even overripe—when it feels something akin to a not-quite-full water balloon. Hachiya persimmons are acorn-shaped, with a pointy bottom. There’s also a type of persimmon tree that’s native to North America (Diospyros virginiana), and is another type of astringent persimmon.
To help identify the different types of persimmons and to know if they’re ripe, I made the quick video below. You can see how you might want to eat the fuyus and hachiyas differently.
Some people prefer to simply scoop out the insides of either type, but the skins are edible. I like to leave the skins on slices of fuyus and add them to salads.
Persimmons are rich in vitamins A and B, and are a good source of fiber. To get the most nutritional value from persimmons, it’s best to eat them raw. However, if you are faced with a glut of these fruits (a nice problem to have!), then you may want to consider making persimmon jam. Here are some other vegetarian recipes featuring persimmons to try:
Do you have a favorite persimmon recipe? Tell us in the comments!