How to Cook Persimmons

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Persimmons may be Japan's national fruit, but they remain a bit of a mystery to many Americans. This fruit is in season from late October through December and two varieties are commonly found in the States. Fuyu persimmons resemble tomatoes with a squat shape and red-orange skin. Hachiya persimmons have the same coloring but are larger and oblong in shape. Both types can be eaten raw, but pay strict attention to the ripeness of a Hachiya persimmon. Wait until they're extremely soft, so that they feel as if they're filled with water, before eating their jelly-like insides or else the experience will be very unpleasant. It can take up a week for one to ripen, but the process can be sped up by storing it in a paper bag with a banana. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten when firm like an apple, skin and all. Both varieties taste like a combination of mango and apricot. If you prefer to cook or bake with them, here are a few recipes to get you started.

  • Persimmon pudding is a classic persimmon dessert made using the flesh of a Hachiya persimmon. This recipe is from Joy the Baker and makes 6 to 8 servings.

    2 cups Hachiya persimmon pulp

    ½ tsp. baking soda

    ½ cup sugar

    2 cups flour

    1 tsp. baking powder

    Pinch of salt

    ½ tsp. cinnamon

    1/8 tsp. nutmeg

    2 cups milk

    1 egg

    1 tbsp. melted butter

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter a 9x9 baking dish. Stir the baking soda and sugar into the persimmon pulp, and set aside. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and spices. Add this to the persimmon mixture, and stir until the flour is almost completely incorporated.

    Whisk together milk, egg and butter, and add to the persimmon mixture. Pour into the baking dish, and bake for one hour. If you want a moist pudding, cover it with foil. If you'd prefer a drier pudding topped with a crust, keep it uncovered. Allow to sit for 30 minutes before serving.

  • For an extra summery take on salsa, try making the persimmon and pomegranate salsa from Food Blogga. This recipe makes 1 ¼ to 1 ½ cups.

    2 Fuyu persimmons with skins, diced

    ¼ cup pomegranate seeds

    2 tbsp. thinly sliced scallions

    1 tsp. lime juice

    ½ tsp. rice vinegar

    1 tsp. ginger

    1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

    Salt, to taste

    ½ tsp. mint, finely chopped

    ½ tsp. basil, finely chopped

    Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the herbs when the salsa is about to be served. Keep it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 4 hours, or else it will taste too astringent. Try serving it with fish or pork, or use it for dipping.

  • The Kitchn's favorite way to serve persimmons is to bake them. This sweetly tart dessert can be served with ice cream, whipped cream or sponge cake.

    4 Fuyu persimmons

    2 tbsp. honey

    ¼ tsp. cinnamon

    ¼ tsp. allspice

    1/8 tsp. ginger

    1 cup hot water

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the tops off the persimmons, then peel and slice the fruits in half horizontally. Place cut side up in a large baking dish. In a small bowl, combine honey and spices. Add hot water and stir until dissolved. Pour mixture over fruit. Cover the dish with foil and bake until persimmons are soft, which will take 40 to 50 minutes. Remove the foil, and spoon syrup over the fruit. Place dish under the broiler until persimmons are browned, about 10 minutes.

  • Persimmons also make an interesting addition to baked goods. NPR's persimmon and walnut muffin recipe makes 12 muffins.

    1 ¼ cup flour

    1 cup whole wheat flour

    ½ cup dark brown sugar

    1 ½ tsp. baking soda

    1 tsp. salt

    1 tsp. cinnamon

    ½ tsp. nutmeg

    A couple pinches of ground cloves

    2 large eggs, lightly beaten

    1 cup low-fat buttermilk

    ¼ cup canola oil

    1/3 cup honey

    2 tsp. ginger

    1 tsp. vanilla extract

    Pulp of 1 large Hachiya persimmon

    ½ cup peeled and diced Fuyu persimmon

    ½ cup golden raisins, coarsely chopped

    ½ cup lightly toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

    3 tbsp. untoasted walnuts

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a 12-mold muffin pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, buttermilk, oil and honey. Add ginger and vanilla. Place the flesh of the Hachiya persimmon in another bowl, and mash with a fork. Add this to the egg mixture, and whisk until just blended. Add this to the flour mixture, and stir quickly until well combined. Fold in the Fuyu persimmon, raisins and walnuts. Spoon the batter into the molds, and sprinkle the tops with the remaining walnuts. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes and cool for 5 minutes before removing muffins from the pan and cooling on a wire rack.

References

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