Other names: Oriental Persimmon, Japanese Persimmon, Kaki
Availability: September through December.
Handling Tips: 55°F, ideally.
General Information: Two types of persimmons are most commonly found. The Fuyu is round with a rather flat top and bottom and should be eaten when hard, like an apple. China is the largest producer of persimmons, followed by Brazil, Japan, and Korea. The United States grows comparatively few persimmons compared to the major producers, but virtually all, of the domestic persimmon crop comes from California.
The Hachiya is also round but the tip points upwards into a cone shape, this variety should ripen at room temperature and enjoyed when soft. The Japanese cultivar 'Hachiya' is a widely grown cultivar. The fruit has a high tannin content which makes the immature fruit astringent and bitter. The tannin levels are reduced as the fruit matures. Persimmons like 'Hachiya' must be completely ripened before consumed.
Both types can be eaten out of hand, cooked with brown sugar as a dessert or served with pork, chicken, ham or fowl. Flavor is sweet with hints of pumpkin, allspice and honey. Good source of phosphorous, potassium, and vitamins A and C
Applications: Persimmons are eaten fresh or dried, raw or cooked. In China, Korea and Japan, after harvesting, 'Hachiya' persimmons are prepared using traditional hand-drying techniques, outdoors for two to three weeks. The fruit is then further dried by exposure to heat over several days before being shipped to market. In Japan the dried fruit is called Hoshigaki, and is eaten as a snack or dessert. The dried persimmon is also used to make the traditional Korean spicy punch, sujeonggwa, while the matured, fermented fruit is used to make a vinegar that is thought to have a wide variety of holistic properties. In some of the areas in China and Korea, the dried leaves of the fruit are used for making tea. The Korean name for this tea is ghamnip cha.
The persimmon also figures prominently in American culinary tradition. Persimmon pudding is a dessert using fresh persimmons. An annual persimmon festival, featuring a persimmon pudding contest, is held every September in Mitchell, Indiana. Persimmon pudding is a baked pudding that has the consistency of pumpkin pie but resembles a brownie and is almost always topped with whipped cream. Persimmons may be stored at room temperature (20°C) where they will continue to ripen.