Deborah M. Schneider, CEC
Someone once asked me to explain the difference between the pointedpersimmon
(Hachiya) and the flat-bottomed (Fuyu). It’s simple: bite
into an under-ripe Hachiya persimmon and you’ll remember which
is which for the rest of your life. Miraculously, when ripethat
same persimmon has the highest sugar content of any fruit exceptdates.
The persimmon is the very essence of fall, with its gorgeous red-orangecolor and green leaves, and a flavor somewhere between honeyed pumpkinand ripest apricot. Look for persimmons between September and December,with supplies peaking in mid-October. They’re good for youtoo; persimmons are loaded with beta-carotenes, potassium and VitaminC.
It’s part of the magic of nature that food always tastesbest with other comestibles from the same season. Persimmons arenatural complements to the warm flavors of fall and early winter:apples and pears, all kinds of nuts, ginger, cinnamon and cardamom,and fresh oranges and lemons. I love the look and sweet taste ofslices of the firm, orange flesh in a fall salad with nuts and sturdygreens like escarole and late spinach, or baked in a gratin withpears and sweetened cream.
Each persimmon type offers its own rewards. The large, cone-shapedHachiya is the temperamental diva of the family. It demands thatyou wait until the exact moment of soft perfection is reached, forit is unforgettably astringent when even slightly under-ripe. Butwhen ripened to gelid translucence, the Hachiya has a creamy textureand a rich, sumptuous flavor that is equally unforgettable. It takesa little TLC to ripen a Hachiya to that magical state of pulpy softness,but it’s worth the wait. Soft-ripe Hachiyas can be scoopedright out of the skin with a spoon, or the pulp can be mashed orpureed though a food mill and used to make golden jam, a batch ofpersimmon muffins or quick bread. Try using the pulp in recipescalling for bananas, pumpkin puree or squash purees.
The flat-bottomed Fuyu is a persimmon of a different persuasion.It will not punish you for eating it too soon. In fact, the Fuyuis best eaten while still a bit firm, even crisp. Its persimmontaste, though not as pronounced as the Hachiya, is gently sweetand delicious raw or cooked. Fuyus should be peeled.
More on Persimmons
Fuyu persimmons dry well in a dehydrator or strung on a line. Driedpersimmons
are delicious in salads, snipped into cookies, muffinsor breads.
Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons are of the Asian variety diospyros
kaki.The North American wild persimmon, known as the ‘sugar
date’was once a staple of the native American diet, and remained
an importantpart of the diet of some regions in the eastern United
States untilwell into the 20th century, appearing in everything
from powderedsweetener to persimmon beer.
In recent years the native tree has been outflanked, outperformedand
out marketed by its Asian cousin, the kaki. If you are cookingtraditional
American food from an older cookbook, substitute well-ripenedHachiya
for American persimmon.
Another native American persimmon is the Black Sapote, which flourishesin
the southwestern US and Mexico, but is not commonly eaten inthis
Helene Beck on Persimmons
Grower Helene Beck raises more than a dozen exotic fruits, including Fuyu persimmons,
at La Vigne farm in Fallbrook, an organic / biodynamicfarm. She
makes and markets frozen persimmon puree, dried persimmon,and persimmon
powder, which was used in ancient times by the Japaneseas a natural
sweetener. She also sells prepared foods, such as PersimmonSalsa
and Persimmon Chipotle Sauce.
According to Beck, persimmon puree will keep baked goods moist andfresh-tasting for days. It can be substituted in any recipe whichcalls for mashed banana, squash or pumpkin. She likes to use distinctiveflavors such as ginger, cardamom and fresh orange to enhance thedelicate flavor of persimmon.
Check for freshness by looking for fruit with fresh, green leaves.The Fuyu stays firm all through the ripening process, but the fleshwill be juiciest when the skin has turned a deep red-orange hue.
For more information, go to www.lavignefruits.com,
or call 760-723-9997
La Vigne Farm Lemon- Glazed Persimmon Muffins
4 ripe Fuyu or Hachiya persimmons
½ cup sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup honey
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 ¾ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup chopped walnuts
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 325. Grease 12 muffin cups. Cut off tops of persimmons:Scoop
out 1 1/2 cups pulp & discard skin. In large bowl, beatsugar
and butter at medium-high speed until light & fluffy.Add persimmon
pulp and lemon juice; beat until blended. In mediumbowl, stir together
flour, baking powder & soda, and salt. Addto batter; beat just
until combined. Stir in walnuts. Fill muffincups 3/4 full. Bake
25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick insertedin center comes out
clean. Cool in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Removefrom pan.
GLAZE: In small bowl, whisk all glaze ingredients until smooth.Spread
glaze over top of warm muffins. Let stand 10 to 15 minutes;serve
Recipe courtesy La Vigne Farms
Mixed Greens and Persimmon Salad
2 red or green Belgian endive
1 bunch escarole
1 bunch fresh spinach
1 large bunch Arugula (about 4 cups)
3 ripe Fuyu persimmons
½ small red onion, thinly sliced
½ red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
¼ cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 teaspoon kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup crumbled blue, Stilton or Gorgonzola cheese
¼ cup golden raisins
¼ cup pine nuts
Stem and wash the lettuces. Dry well on paper towels, then cut
intobite-sized pieces. Chill. Peel the persimmons and cut in half
lengthwise,then across into thin slices. Combine the vinegar, lemon
juice,olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender, or shake in a jar
to combine.Adjust seasoning.
Toss the lettuces, persimmons, onion and bell pepper in a largebowl
with the dressing. Divide among 4 chilled plates. Top withthe cheese,
pine nuts and raisins.
Old-fashioned Persimmon Bread is a great way to use sweet, soft,perfectly
ripe heart-shaped Hachiya persimmons. On a modern note,this bread
will freeze well. Makes 2 loaves.
½ cup butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups ripe persimmon pulp (3-4 Hachiya,) mashed smooth or pureed
1 ½ cups Raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
Cream Cheese Frosting:
8 ounces powdered sugar
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
4 ounces butter, at room temperature
½ teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously coat two non-stick loafpans
with cooking spray.
Cream butter and sugar together until smooth. Add the eggs, a littleat a time, and vanilla, stirring until well-blended. Sift dry ingredientstogether, then fold into butter mixture. Add the smooth persimmonpuree, the raisins and nuts. Mix until blended. Do not over mix.
Divide the batter between the loaf pans. Bake 45-55 minutes, oruntil a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Turn outof pans and cool before spreading on the Cream Cheese Frosting.
Adapted from a recipe by Corporate Chef Ida Rodriguez, Melissa’sFine
Big Batch Dried Persimmon-Pecan Oatmeal
I used to make these cookies to sneak some whole grains into mykids. It worked. The dried persimmons are chewy, tangy and a littlesweet, just right with nuts and cinnamon. The recipe makes a largebatch of 9 dozen, but can be halved. The finished cookies freezevery well, but they probably won’t last that long.
3 sticks butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup bran
1 tablespoon cinnamon
½ cup coconut
2 cups dried persimmons, cut into small pieces with scissors
1 ½ cups chopped pecans
3 cups quick rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease cookie sheets.
Cream the butter until soft. Add the sugars a little at a time,and beat until fluffy. Beat the eggs and add to the butter and sugar.
In a separate bowl, thoroughly combine the baking soda, flour, branand cinnamon, and add to the butter and sugar mixture. Combine well.Fold in the remaining ingredients.
Form into balls the size of golf balls and set onto baking sheets,pressing
down lightly with a fork. Leave space between. Bake for8-10 minutes,
or until golden brown.
Gratin of Persimmon, Pear and Apple
It really helps to have a mandolin (or an assistant) to slice thefruit, since it must be done quickly and popped into the oven. Serves4.
4 ripe, firm Fuyu persimmons
2 ripe, firm pears
2 green apples
½ cup sugar (or more to taste)
Juice of half a lemon
1 cup heavy cream (divided use)
Vanilla Ice Cream (optional)
Peel the fruit, cut in half from stem to bottom and neatly cut
outthe core. Slice the fruit about 1/8th inch thick, using a mandolinor
sharp knife. Immediately toss the fruit in a bowl with the sugarand
lemon juice to stop it from browning. (This should be just beforecooking,
since the apples and pears may turn color. This will notaffect their
Preheat the broiler. Arrange two layers of the fruit in an ovenproofdish
or gratin, in an overlapping pattern. The gratin should beno more
than ½ inch thick. Drizzle with just enough of theheavy cream
to lightly coat the top. Broil the fruit eight inchesfrom the heat
source. When the top is browned, and the fruit iswarmed, the gratin
is ready to be served with the rest of the heavycream or a scoop
of vanilla ice cream.
Freezer Persimmon Jam
Makes 4 cups
1 ½ pounds soft Fuyu persimmons OR 1 ½ pounds soft-ripe
3 cups sugar
1 pouch (3 oz.) liquid pectin
¼ cup lemon juice
Remove and discard stems from persimmons.
For Fuyu persimmons: Peel with a knife if firm.
If soft, cut inhalf and scoop out pulp. Discard any seeds. Coarsely
chop with aknife or food processor. Do not puree. You should have
about 1 ½cups of fruit.
For Hachiya persimmons: Scoop pulp into a bowl.
Cut into 2-inchchunks. You should have 2 cups of fruit.
Both types: Mix fruit and sugar in a bowl and
let stand for 10 minutes,stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix pectin
and lemon juice; addto fruit and stir gently for three minutes (Vigorous
mixing trapsair bubbles and makes the jam cloudy.)
Sterilize ½ pint jars and lids. Fill to within ½ inchof the rim. Cover and let stand 12-16 hours at room temperature,the refrigerate or freeze.
Unopened jam can be stored for six months in the refrigerator; useopened jam within two weeks. Freeze to store longer.
From: Making and Using Dried Foods, by Phyllis Hobson
Five-Spice Roast Duck with
A perfect recipe for a fall feast. The two-day cooking process describedhere will render a crisp-skinned, succulent bird. Serve with a simplewild rice pilaf. Serves 4. Recipe can be halved, or scaled up.
2 whole ducklings, fresh or frozen
1 tablespoon Chinese five-spice powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground white pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3 perfectly ripe Hachiya persimmons
The day before you plan to serve the duck: Preheat oven to 325
degrees.Rinse the duckling, and pat dry inside and out. Combine
the dryspices and lightly rub the duck, inside and out with the
spice mix.(You might not use all of it.) Set the ducks on a rack
in a roastingpan, along with the neck, and roast for 1 ½
to 2 hours, oruntil the flesh appears shrunken. If you press the
breast meat witha fingertip, a light mark remains. The meat will
feel soft; if itfeels bouncy, cook the duck longer. When done, remove
from the ovenand cool for 30 minutes in the pan. Pour any juices
out of the cavityinto the roasting pan. Loosely wrap the ducks and
Pour off the pan juices into a gravy separator. Reserve the brownjuices from the bottom. (The fat can be used to roast potatoes ormake preserved duck, or discarded.) Pour a little hot water intothe roasting pan, return to the stove top and boil while you scrapeup all of the brown bits cooked on to the bottom. Add these deglazedjuices to the reserved brown juice from the separator. Add enoughwater, if necessary, to make ¾ cup of duck stock.
The next day, preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a sharp boning knifeto remove the breast meat and skin from the ducks. Remove each legin one piece, cutting high and around the back of the duck, andtaking care to keep as much skin on the thigh as possible. Set theduck pieces, skin side up, in shallow roasting pans or sautépans, with room between the pieces. Add about an eighth of an inchof the reserved duck stock to the pan. Bring to the boil on topof the stove, and pop them into the oven. Roast the duck until theskin is crisp and the meat is heated through, about 15 minutes (youmay need to turn on the broiler for the final crisping, but keepthe duck well below the element.)
While the duck is roasting, cut the top off the persimmons and scoopthe pulp into a food mill, or a sturdy wire sieve set over a bowl.Puree the persimmons. If there is still a touch of astringency,add a couple of drops of fresh lemon juice and a touch of sugar.Strain and reheat remaining pan juices.
When the duck is crisp, let rest five minutes out of the oven, inthe pan. Serve
each person a breast and leg with pan juices drizzledover, and a
dollop of the persimmon puree on the side.