As the air outside turns cool and crisp and daylight becomes more sparse, root veggies, squash, pumpkins, greens, and apples replace berries, watermelon, and stone fruits on farmer’s market stands. Fruit may not even be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of winter eats.
Nonetheless, they exist — in fact, even in this frosty weather, some seasonal fruits are even more delicious and fresh. Persimmons are one such food!
If you have no idea what to do with a persimmon, I’m here to give you some delish and no hassle ways to prepare and eat these festive cold weather gems.
Persimmons tend to be underrated and somewhat misunderstood. If you’ve ever eaten an underripe Hachiya persimmon (the larger, heart shaped persimmon variety), you know what I mean. You know how brutally astringent they can be. Really nothing you would want to put in your mouth!
But once you become familiar with the different types of persimmons and how to prepare them to optimize their deliciousness, my guess is you’ll appreciate their tasty and versatile qualities.
High in nutrients and fiber, persimmons are rich in vitamins A, C, E, K, B1, B6, B2, and a host of important minerals such as copper and potassium. If you’re one to shop seasonal and support local, this is exactly the time to start scouring the markets for these glowing orange globes.
Taste wise, persimmons have a wonderfully sweet and mildly spicy flavor profile that makes them blend perfectly with other fall and winter foods, such as greens, roasted root veggies, soups, and meats.
First things first: the season generally runs from September through December, making these colorful fruits quintessential for adding color and cheer to holiday spreads.
Then it’s time to get to know the types of persimmons: Hachiya persimmons are the larger variety and have an elongated pointy peak, giving them a heart shape. Fuyu are generally smaller, rounded, and squat (more like a tomato).
Both types of persimmons are tasty, but they’re usually eaten very differently. Hachiyas are best for baking since they’re so painfully astringent when underripe.
However, when ripened to perfection, hachiya persimmons are so sweet and tender that they can pretty much be eaten as a stand-alone dessert. Spoon required!
Fuyu, on the other hand, can be eaten raw like apples. They have a firm texture when ripe, and though still sweet, they also go well in salads such as this Rainbow Chopped Salad, as well as savory and spicy dishes.
The recipes that I experimented with focus on fuyu persimmons, but if you’re lucky enough to get ahold of some ripe and seasonal haciyas and have a knack for baking, check out this classic persimmon cookie recipe by Pinch My Salt or this persimmon pudding holiday classic adapted by Bojon Gourmet.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for some quick ways to prepare and savor persimmons, particularly of the fuyu variety, I’ve got some fun and easy recipes for you that won’t compromise flavor!
My personal new favorite is this organic persimmon salsa by Organic Authority. This recipe is super easy and full of zesty, surprising flavor. Plus, the best part — all it requires is a little chopping and mixing.
Persimmon salsa yields a spicy-sweet multi-layered flavor that will impress your holiday guests (unless you eat it all first)!
This salsa could be eaten with chips, but I find that it works well when enjoyed more like a chutney. Eat a spoonful of persimmon salsa and notice how the flavors of fruit, mint, basil, ginger, and pepper unfold in layers!
Consider persimmon salsa as a garnish alongside roasted veggies, potatoes, or fish. It also mixes well with green salad, cooked leafy greens, and can be eaten as a topping with cheese and crackers… or just eaten by the spoonful. Yep, I did it!
P.S. I ended up with a couple of minor alterations to this recipe. I skipped peeling the persimmons (it came out just fine) and used fresh squeezed lemon juice (about one whole, fresh lemon). Also, I added a little powdered cumin and paprika for extra seasoning.
Pan roasted fuyu persimmons
Fuyu persimmons also work great when pan roasted. This simple recipe is great for cool fall and winter days.
- Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
- Thinly slice a few fuyu persimmons, cutting in a flat circular shape.
- Spread persimmon slices out on a parchment paper over a cookie sheet.
- Drizzle persimmon slices with olive oil and a dash of salt.
- Optional: spice it up! I like to roast persimmons with a dash of powdered cinnamon as well as a small handful of fresh curry leaves (which can be obtained from most Indian markets). But, you don’t have to follow my lead! Try a little black pepper, plain cinnamon, nutmeg, or your other favorite spices.
- Roast for 25 to 30 minutes.
- Eat as a stand-alone snack, as a side, or with a soft cheese like brie.
Persimmon “ice cream”
Okay, it’s not really ice cream, but frozen persimmons make an awesome dessert that can sub as an ice cream or sorbet. This idea is straight from Martha Stewart and I was so fascinated I had to try!
Simply put a few persimmons in the freezer overnight. You can even freeze these fruits for up to a month.
Whenever you’re ready to eat the persimmons, let them thaw for an hour or so until the flesh is soft enough to break with a spoon. (The freezing process actually softens the inner flesh of the persimmons).
Spoon out and eat like ice cream or frozen custard. Also, a bit of honey and a little cinnamon and/or cardamom really makes this frozen treat pop!
Whether you’re up for a classic baking project or looking for something zesty and experimental, next time you see some tasty looking fresh persimmons, grab several and have a little fun in the kitchen!
I love how these spicy-sweet brightly colored fruits literally look and taste like the holidays. So freeze them, roast them, bake them, or grab a fuyu persimmon and crunch into it like a raw apple.
I hope you will come to appreciate these lovely yet misunderstood cold weather fruits as much as I do.
Greta Kent-Stoll is a writer and Ayurvedic practitioner. Find more of her work at ashevilleayureveda.net.