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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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