Fall harvest brings in the crisp sweetness of apples along with the warm richness of pumpkins and squash. However, there are other fall produce varieties that are less common but equally delicious. Persimmons, for example, are one of my favorite fall fruits.
They are typically in season starting in September and ending in December. There are several types of persimmons, two of which are more popular here in the U.S. They are the fuyu and hachiya persimmons, which originated in Asia, but now are grown here in the states as well as several other places. If you have never tasted persimmons, there are some things you definitely want to know before selecting your bright and delicious fruit. Probably one of the most important things to know is which persimmon is astringent and which one is sweet. The astringent persimmons are still a wonderful fruit when they’re ripe. If you’ve ever had an unripe persimmon, you know what I'm talking about here. Yeah, not that yummy, right? But when you choose them correctly, oh wow, are they ever scrumptious!
Fuyu persimmons are sweet and can be enjoyed when they are firm. It kind of seems like it should be just the opposite, but it's not. You can enjoy their skin as well. Fuyu persimmons have a short, round shape to them. The only thing you need to do before enjoying them is remove their stem. The rest is edible and delicious! The hachiya persimmon will be sweet only when it’s very ripe or even overripe. Some people compare a ripe hichiya to a water balloon that is not quite full. Their color is a beautiful deep orange. Hachiya persimmons are acorn-shaped, with a pointy bottom. To eat a hachiya, remove the stem and use a spoon to scoop out the honeyed, custard-like flesh.
Persimmons are rich in vitamin A, B, as well as fiber. As a matter of fact, you get 55% of your daily value of vitamin A in a persimmon. It's also low in calories and fat, as well as being full of phytonutrients, flavonoids, and antioxidants. In Japan, where persimmons were originally cultivated, they are considered to be the country’s national fruit where the Fuyu is also known as Fuyugaki. Currently, they are cultivated around the world and made their way to the U.S. in 1856. On a recent trip to Japan, while visiting the Sanjusangen-do Temple in Kyoto, I noticed a beautiful persimmon tree. The actual name for the tree is the Diospyros kaki. It immediately reminded me of all the good things fall has to offer. Seeing that beautiful, bright orange fruit dangle from the tree branches brought a smile to my face as I thought about how much I enjoy persimmons as their season was upon us. It was neat to see them in their place of origin as well.
If you have yet to try persimmons, I hope I have peaked your curiosity. If you see them in your local store or at a farmer's market, grab one and give it a try. You will love it! Since persimmons are one of my fall favorites, I thought it was appropriate to make a fruit salad using them. Fuyu persimmons are my preferred choice, so that is what I used in my fruit salad. Choose whichever variety you like best. I also added some delicious pears and pomegranates which are also reminiscent of fall. The flavors of these fruits really complement each other and make a fabulous addition to your holiday meals. There really is no need for dressing with this salad, but I made a simple honey lime dressing to coat the fruit, as well as throwing in a touch of fresh mint leaves. It never ceases to amaze me how simple, natural foods can create such wonderful flavors!
4 fuyu persimmons, peeled & diced into 1/2 inch pieces
3 pears (variety of your choice), peeled, stems discarded, diced into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup pomegranate arils
2 Tbs raw honey
juice from two limes (or one lemon)
8-10 fresh mint leaves, cut in chiffonade
1. Cut the permissons and pears and place them in a medium bowl. Add the pomegranate arils.
2. In a small bowl, mix the honey and lime juice. Pour the mixture over the fruit, add the mint leaves, and toss to combine. Serves 4.