Gotta Try It: Persimmons

For many families, fall is about apples. At our house, it’s all about persimmons. Every year, my family eagerly awaits these sweet golden-orange gems. Native to China and Japan, but now grown all over the world, persimmons are harvested  between late October and February. Every Halloween, as we carve our pumpkins—the other round, orange fruit in season at the same time—the kids are reminded that their favorite small, crunchy orange fruit is finally here.

While my kids have been eating persimmons since they were tiny toddlers, I’m now meeting a lot of folks who have never tried one. If you’re one of those people, your time has come. You have been missing out.

There are a number of varieties of persimmons, but the two main ones that are easy to find in the United States are the Fuyu and the Hachiya. Our family usually eats the tomato-shaped, flat-bottomed Fuyus, because they’re easier to find and the less expensive of the two. I also think the kids prefer the Fuyu, because it has a crisp texture, whereas the Hachiya is soft and pudding-like. The Fuyu is ripe when firm, and personally I like it when it has a little give to it, like a ripe peach, but it can be eaten either way and is equally delicious. Although the skin is edible, I recommend that you peel it if you’re a persimmon virgin. Even after eating persimmons for decades I find the skin to detract from the rest of the fruit, which is why I always peel them first. C likes to eat the fruit whole like an apple, and S likes hers in slices.

The Hachiya, on the other hand, is an astringent when it’s not ripe, so it’s imperative to let them ripen fully and get really soft. Shaped like a large acorn and characterized by a more reddish-orange hue than the fuyu, Hachiyas are best cut in half and then eaten with a spoon.

It’s a shame you can only get these beautiful orange lanterns in late fall and early winter. So, we’re not wasting any time here at the Y household. I’m buying them by the truckloads. The kids are finding them in salads with spinach, goat cheese and walnuts, in their cereal, and in their lunch boxes. If they’re really lucky, I just might try to make a persimmon jam this year.

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