I’m a persimmon newbie. This time of year, my grocery store stocks persimmons, and every year I eye them thinking this is the year I’ll finally try them. This has seriously been going on for at least five years. I know… it’s ridiculous. My inexperience with the fruit was holding me back, but I finally made the leap and purchased not one but two different varieties of the fruit - fuyu and hachiya.
Persimmons are orange fruits that are in season in the fall and winter. The fuyu persimmon looks like an orange squat tomato and the hachiya persimmon is larger and elongated. It kind of looks like a big, orange acorn. Both varieties are sweet when ripe and taste like a cross between a papaya and a peach.
Fuyu persimmons are ripe when they are a dark orange color. If you buy them and they are still a bit green, allow them to ripen to a dark orange color on your counter. They will soften a bit, but still remain mostly firm. They can be eaten like an apple, but the skin is a bit tough which is why you may want to peel them first. The great thing about this variety is there are no seeds in the middle!
If you cut them into rounds, they have a pretty star-shaped pattern on the inside. Fuyu persimmons are incredibly versatile… not only can you eat them raw in a salad or wrap a slice in a piece of prosciutto and drizzle it with balsamic glaze, but you can also cut them into wedges and roast them, or make a chutney to accompany roasted pork like I did. They also make a great upside down cake!
The hachiya variety of persimmon needs to be very ripe (like, very very ripe) in order to enjoy them. If they aren’t fully soft in texture, then they will be incredibly astringent. They should be a deep orange color and feel a bit squishy when gently pressed. Because the flesh is very soft, hachiya persimmons are typically used for baking. The flesh is pureed into a pulp, and mixed into quick breads (like muffins), cakes and cookies. To make haychiya persimmon pulp, cut the fruit into eight wedges, use a sharp knife to remove the skin, remove the seeds (yes, this variety has a couple of seeds that resemble an apricot pit) and place the fruit in a food processor. Puree until smooth and use in your baked goods.
I purchased both varieties of persimmon, but decided to make a sweet and savory chutney using the fuyu variety, and a cheesecake with the hachiyas. I had some pork tenderloin on hand, and because pork and fruit go so well together, I knew that a persimmon-cranberry chutney that includes onions, fresh ginger, red chili flakes, apple cider vinegar and brown sugar would be a fantastic accompaniment sauce. This chutney would be a phenomenal addition to your Thanksgiving turkey or a simple roasted chicken for an easy weeknight dinner.
Scroll down for a printable version of this recipe
Yield: Approximately 3 cups
Active time: 20 minutes
Start to finish: 55 minutes
4 fuyu persimmons, tops removed and cut into medium dice
3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 onion, medium dice
1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 tablespoons ginger, freshly grated
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries
Salt to taste
- Place all of the ingredients for the chutney in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cook until the fruit is tender and the juices have thickened, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Season with additional salt if needed, and serve warm or room temperature.
If you go the cheesecake route, follow my recipe for pumpkin cheesecake bars but use the pureed pulp of four very, very ripe hachiya persimmons to replace the pumpkin puree. I didn’t use the dry spices in the cheesecake because I was afraid they would overpower the delicate flavor of the fruit. I also baked cheesecakes in muffin tins for cute and easy individual servings.
Now that I am so much more comfortable working with persimmons, I will no longer shy away from them at the store. For as long as they are in season, they will become a staple in my kitchen, and I will continue to experiment with them.
Work with persimmons first hand in Vegetarian Boot Camp next year where we will teach you how to make a fuyu persimmon and apple tart with an orange-ginger glaze. Yum! Sign up for our January 6 or March 22 session.