It is persimmon season in California. These beautiful orange fruits are not well understood, which is a shame. There are 2 common types of persimmons, the Fuyu and the Hachiya. The Fuyu has a rounded bottom, the Hachiya has a pointed bottom.
Hachiya Persimmon on the left, Fuyu Persimmon on the right
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 these 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!
In contrast, the Fuyu persimmon is the non-astringent type, and can be eaten like an apple when it is crispy ripe. It is also tasty when it gets a bit 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.
Mango salsa is delicious, but unlike persimmons, mangoes are not commonly grown in California. The texture, color and flavor of a slightly soft-ripe Fuyu persimmon is similar to mango and it makes a nice California alternative to mango in recipes. I started making this persimmon salsa several years ago, and serve it on grilled chicken or fish, or as a topping for that oven fried fish recipe I posted several days ago.
Use slightly soft Fuyu persimmons if you can. However any Fuyu will work, whether it is still crisp or it is dead ripe soft.
I like the persimmon peeled, so I peeled it, removed the seeds and chopped it coarsely. I also used about 1/3 of a very hot poblano chili that had turned red. I chopped the chili very finely.
I then mixed it in the bowl with the other 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 ( I used red onion because we grew a lot of them this year so I use them in all my recipes)
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 sauce to taste. The amount of chile is up to your discretion. I usually just taste it until it is as hot as I would like.
This is delicious over grilled chicken or fish. In the next few days I will post a recipe for oven fried fish. I love to serve it over the crispy oven fried fish, or in a fish taco as well.
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, we do sell them at our farm. Check out our website www.burgesonfamilyfarm.com for more information.
© 2015. Dayna Green-Burgeson RD, CDE. All Rights Reserved.