Persimmon salsa

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It is persimmon season in California. These beautiful orange fruits are not well understood, which is a shame. Many people have never eaten persimmons at all. Most of those who have eaten persimmons are familiar only with the Hachiya persimmon. These persimmons are the astringent type and must be very soft, almost jelly like to be sweet. If you eat one that is not ripe the mouth-puckering experience will be memorable.

The majority of Hachiiya persimmons seem to be used in baking. Most people say “oh yes, my (insert grandmother, aunt, mother)…made persimmon cookies”.  Certainly they can be eaten when soft with a spoon, or frozen and eaten like ice cream, or added to smoothies, but the majority of them seem to be eaten in baked goods. I like baked goods, but do not think that is the best way to increase our daily intake of fruits and vegetables. I want to eat A LOT of fruits and vegetables, and 2 cups in a cookie recipe does not have much of an impact unless I eat A LOT of cookies, which is not a good idea!

Unfortunately, since the Hachiya persimmons are astrigent when firm, those unfamiliar with persimmons assume that rule applies to all persimmons.  In fact, Fuyu persimmons are the non-astringent type, and they can be eaten like an apple when crispy.  Fuyu persimmons are also tasty and can be used in baked goods when they get softer. Unfortunately, because of the astringent reputation of the Hachiya persimmons, many people seem to avoid the Fuyu as well. But they really are a delicious fall fruit that can be eaten in many ways.  I like to add Fuyu persimmon to salads, or slice it to eat out of hand. We also dry them just like we dry apples in our food dryer. I find the skin a bit tough so I prefer to remove it, but many people eat them skin and all.

There is an easy way to distinguish the sweet Fuyu persimmon from the astringent Hachiya. The Fuyu has a rounded bottom, the Hachiya has a pointed bottom.

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Hachiya Persimmon on the left, Fuyu Persimmon on the right

I love fruit salsa, and mango salsa is delicious, but unlike persimmons, mangoes are not commonly grown in Northern California. I find the texture, color and flavor of a slightly soft-ripe Fuyu persimmon to be similar to mango and have decided to try using it as a California alternative to mango in recipes.  I started making this persimmon salsa several years ago, and I love it on grilled chicken or fish, or it can be eaten with chips like any other salsa.

Use slightly soft Fuyu persimmons if you can. However any Fuyu will work, whether it is still crisp or it is dead ripe soft.

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Beautiful Fall Fuyu persimmons

I like the persimmon peeled, so I peel it, remove the seeds and chop it coarsely. For this recipe, use about 4 persimmons or enough to make 2 cups of chopped persimmon.   The spiciness of this recipe can be individualized. I use about 1/3 of a very hot Poblano chili that has turned red. I chop the chili very finely. This is about 1/4 cup of chopped chili.chopped-persimmon-and-chilesw

Mix the persimmon and chili in a bowl with the following ingredients:

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

½ cup finely diced avocado (1/2 large or 1 small – about 4 ounces by weight)

½ cup chopped scallion or ¼ cup very finely chopped red onion soaked in water for 10 minutes

¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 Tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger

If you do not have fresh chili, (for example jalapeno) you can use Tabasco or Sriracha or other hot sauce to taste. The amount of spice is up to your discretion. I usually just taste it until it is as hot as I would like.

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Fuyu Persimmon Salsa

Nutrition Notes: persimmons are a good source of carotenoid compounds (vitamin A like compounds) and lutein and zeaxanthin. This compounds can promote eye health.

By the way, if you are interested in purchasing Fuyu persimmons, or the limes for this recipe, we do sell them at our farm and will ship within the continental United States. Just send us a message at this link and we will set you up. Our sister farm Leisen’s Bridgeway Farms also sells them for us at the West End Farmer’s Market in Santa Rosa and the East Side Farmer’s Market in Petaluma.

© 2013. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.

Reproduction of any content in the article without the written persmission of the author is prohibited.

http://www.burgesonfamilyfarm.com

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Pomegranates: How to get to the seeds, how to make juice.

Dayna’s sister Janet Leisen, and her husband Corrie, of Leisen’s Bridgeway Farms recently started selling some of our produce at the West End Farmer’s Market on Sundays in Santa Rosa and the Petaluma East Side Farmer’s Market on Tuesdays. They are selling our Bearss limes, Key Limes, Persimmons, Quince and Pomegranate. Sometime in November they will also begin to sell our most popular item, Satsuma Mandarins.

Janet said that several people at the market have asked her the best way to open a pomegranate to remove the seeds so I thought I would re-post the directions for getting out the seeds. I also love making juice, so for you industrious types, I am including directions for that as well. This is all from a page that I had posted in the past on my California Mediterranean Diet blog.

Often the pomegranates you buy in the store have been picked before they are fully ripe. The best pomegranates are the ones that are so ripe they have started to crack. Obviously at this point they do not store well but this is when the color is the darkest and they are the most sweet. We try to pick our pomegranates right before they crack. Unfortunately when I picked today for the market on Tuesday, we had waited so long most of them looked like this.

I won’t be able to sell this pomegranate but it will make great juice and it will be easy to open!

We use most of the pomegranates we grow to make juice. We love to
mix the juice with tonic water, or spirits such as vodka or tequila to make
cocktails. It also can be boiled down to make pomegranate syrup to use in
cooking.

We tried using citrus presses and other easy methods to make
the juice, but we have found that the skin and pulp impart bitter flavors to the juice
so we have gone back to using a somewhat laborious method which involves
first removing the seeds from the pomegranate, then getting juice from the
seeds.

Here is how tp get the seeds from the pomegranate:

First remove the skin from the top and bottom of the
pomegranate. Cut around the circumference but only through the skin, not
deep enough to cut the seeds. This will prevent the task from becoming a big
juicy mess!Cut around the circumference of the pomegranate both top and bottom but do not cut through the seeds, only through the skin.

Now peel off the skin. Notice the seeds are whole.This is because they were not cut with the knife.

Peeling off the top and bottom to reveal the lovely seeds inside.

There can be some pomegranate spray, so I usually do this step and the steps afterwards holding the pomegranate under a bowl full of water.  The water contains almost every bit of spray. If I do this while watching TV rather than outside or in the kitchen, I cover the sofa with an old sheet as an extra precaution.

Now cut from top to bottom in about 5 or 6 locations around the perimeter of the pomegranate. Again, these are shallow cuts that only cut the skin, not the seeds.

Now  break the pomegranate apart along the natural segments, and remove the seeds from each segment. This is less messy if it is done under water.

Note the natural segments of seeds that have separated from the skin and membrane.  Gently scrap away those seeds from the membrane and let them drop into the water.

The white pulp will float to the top and the seeds will sink to
the bottom of the water. Now skim the pulp off the top of the water,
and strain the seeds, and they are ready to go.

If you dry the seeds on a cloth and then store them in a sealed container in the refrigerator, with folded paper towels on the top of the seeds, they can last for weeks. You can sprinkle them on salad, on your yogurt and oatmeal or just grab handfuls for snacks.

If you want to take it to the next level, you can make juice.

Here is a huge soup pot filled with pomegranate seeds ready for making juice.
Adrian often does this job while he is watching TV. He covers the sofa with a sheet because he prefers to not use the water, so it can become a somewhat messy job. Check out that sheet.The juice can be made with either raw or cooked pomegranates. We have found it is somewhat sweeter if we cook them. If you are planning to make juice and do not have a juice press, you should heat them to get the maximum yield. Put a small amount of water in the bottom of the pot, smash them down slightly with a potato masher to release more liquid, put on the cover, and slowly heat the pomegranates, stirring occasionally, until they have come to a simmer and have broken down but have not boiled, and the juice has been released. Then let them cool.

These are the pomegranates after heating and cooling. They are now ready to be pressed.

Cooked pomegranate seeds ready to be made into juice.

The seeds are then placed into a juice bag which we purchased, along with our little tabletop press, at The Beverage People, which is in Santa Rosa. You can also use a large piece of muslin if you are planning to squeeze the juice by hand.

The pressing-1Pouring seeds and juice into tabletop press

Before we had this tabletop press, we used a large old wine press we had, and before that we just used muslin or a cloth bag and squeezed by hand. The little tabletop press is by far the best way to go when you have a lot of pomegranates and are planning to make juice every year.

If you are doing this by hand, just place the pomegranate seeds in a fine mesh strainer and let the juice run out freely. Then put the seeds in a muslin bag or in the middle of a large muslin piece and twist the top until the juice is squeezed out of the bag. Continue to twist and squeeze the bag or fabric until you can get as much juice out as possible. You can get about 3/4 of the juice out without using a press. We got about 1 cup of juice per pound of seeds squeezing by hand. This is the seeds from 2 large pomegranates.

We put the bag of pomegranate seeds in the press, gradually
screw it down to create pressure on the seeds and the juice runs out of the
spout into our collection device.

The juice-1

This may be the best pomegranate juice you have ever tasted!

From there we pour it into bottles and freeze or can it to use year round.

Nutrition Note: pomegranates are high in phyto-nutrients
associated with a reduction in disease. Much of the strongest research has suggested that eating pomegranates or drinking the juice can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease. The research on reducing the risk of prostate cancer has been especially promising.

 

© 2013. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.

Reproduction of any content in the article without the written persmission of the author is prohibited.

http://www.burgesonfamilyfarm.com