Persimmons are brilliant orange in color, with ripe, richly sweet flesh that is soft and creamy in texture. The skin is also edible. Also called apple of the Orient, persimmons originated in the Far East. Another nickname for this prized luscious fruit is date plum, which aptly describes its rich flavor. There are two varieties: the Hachiya (or Japanese) and the Fuyu. The Hachiya variety is about 3 inches in diameter with a slightly pointed base. The brilliant orange-red skin doesn't indicate ripeness. The fruit is ripe when it is quite soft, but not mushy, to the touch. Underipe Hachiyas have a very bitter, astringent flavor. To ripen, store in a plastic bag at room temperature. Refrigerate only after fully ripened. The Fuyu variety is smaller than the Hachiya. This variety is firm when ripe with a crisp texture but without the bitter flavor, which is the exact opposite of the Hachiya, so picking the correct variety is important. Persimmons are available from October through February.
How to Use
Use the pulp of Hachiya persimmons for cakes, cookies, muffins, quick breads, puddings, sauces, creams, sorbets, jams and preserves. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten out of hand as you would with an apple.
How to Buy
Both varieties of persimmon should have smooth, brillant orange to orange-red skins with no blemishes or soft spots. The green cap should be attached.
How to Store
Refrigerate unwashed ripe persimmons for up to 3 days.
How to Serve
To easily scoop the pulp from Hachiya persimmons, cut an "X" in the pointed end of the fruit and peel back the skin to spoon out the soft interior. Slice Fuyu persimmons to add to fruit platters and salads and to use as a garnish.