Extreme Cuisine Persimmons
Looking at a persimmon in the grocery store, you’ve probably wondered how to eat it and how it can be used in recipes. There are two popular types of persimmons commonly sold – Fuyu and Hachiya. The first is quite sweet and edible when it’s firm-ripe. The second (my personal favourite) is quite astringent and inedible unless soft-ripe. Both turn a beautiful orange-red colour when ripe.
I grew up eating the Japanese Hachiya persimmon, aka Kaki. These are the most intensely flavoured persimmons. Other varieties are the green-skinned, white-fleshed persimmon native to Mexico called Black Sapote. The Mabolo is native to the Philippines and turns a brilliant red when ripe. All persimmons need to be handled carefully during cooking, otherwise that sweet, creamy pulp will revert to its original bitter astringency. Another tip is to add baking soda to the pulp before it’s mixed with other ingredients, otherwise the final product will be gummy.
When is it ripe?
The best way to determine if a Hachiya persimmon is ripe is by giving it a little squeeze. It should give easily. It should even feel a little squishy. The skin should begin to look translucent. For the Fuyu persimmon, colour is the best indicator. Fruit should be shiny, bright and deep orange in colour. It should feel firm, like an apple.
How to store?
If the persimmons you’ve bought are still not ripe, store them at room temperature. Once ripe, store them in the refrigerator for up to one month. Ripe persimmons can be frozen whole; or scoop out the pulp and pack it into small containers.
Hachiya Persimmon in a Glass
Slice the stem end off a soft-ripe persimmon. Nestle it in a stemmed glass. Serve chilled au naturel or with a drizzling of hazelnut-flavoured liqueur.
Glazed Fuyu Persimmon Wedges
1-1/4 to -1/2 lbs firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons
1/4 cup butter
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp curry powder
3 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp raisins
1. With a sharp knife or vegetable peeler, cut off persimmon stems and peel; slice the fruit into 1/2 inch thick wedges, discarding any seeds.
2. In a 10 to 12 inch frying pan, combine butter, ginger, cumin and curry powder; cook uncovered, over medium heat until mixture foams. Stir in persimmons and lime juice. Heat mixture until sizzling, then reduce heat to low and cook, turning fruit occasionally with a spatula until hot and lightly glazed, about 5 minutes.
Hachiya Persimmon Syllabub
A syllabub is a dessert popular in Victorian England and made with sweetened cream and wine.
1-1/2 lbs soft-ripe Hachiya persimmons
1 cup each whipping cream and icing sugar
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 tsp lemon juice
1. Pull stems off persimmons, cut fruit in half and scoop pulp from skin with a spoon; discard any seeds. You should end up with 2 cups pulp. In a food processor or blender, puréed pulp; set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, whip cream and sugar (scraping down sides of bowl as needed) until mixture will hold a soft peak. Stir in persimmon purée, sherry and lemon juice to taste. Serve, or cover and chill up to 1 day. To serve, spoon syllabub into small bowls and eat with a spoon.
Hachiya Persimmon Indian Pudding
1/2 lb Haciya persimmons
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup dark molasses
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1. Pull stems off persimmons. Cut fruit in half and scoop pulp from skin with a spoon; discard any seeds. You should have 1 cup pulp. In a food processor or blender, purée pulp with baking soda; set aside.
2. With an electric mixer, beat together sugar, butter and molasses until blended; add eggs and vanilla and beat until smooth. In a separate bowl, stir flour with cornmeal, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Gradually stir into creamy mixture along with purée, raisins and nuts.
3. Pour batter into a buttered 6-7 cup loaf pan or ring mould; cover tightly with foil. Put pan in a larger pan and place in a 300°F oven. Add 3/4 inch boiling water to the larger pan. Bake until pudding is firm in the centre when lightly pressed, about 2 hours. Let stand 10 minutes, then run a knife around side of pan to release pudding. Invert onto a plate.
Makes about 2 litres
This chutney goes very well with curries, grilled cheese sandwiches and ham, pork, duck and goose.
2 lbs Fuyu persimmons
3-1/2 cups water
1/2 lb dried apricots
1-1/2 cups raisins
2 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 Tbsp mustard seed
3/4 tsp chili powder
3/4 tsp chili powder
1-1/2 cups white wine vinegar
1-1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1. Cut off stems and peel with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler. Chop fruit, discarding any seeds; you need 4-1/2 cups fruit.
2. In a 6 litre pan combine persimmon with water, apricots, raisins, ginger, mustard seed and chili powder. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, thencover and cook 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar. Simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, then more frequently as mixture thickens, until most of the liquid evaporates and chutney is reduced to 7 cups, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Sat chutney to taste. Serve chutney warm, or store in covered jars in the refrigerator up to 1 month; or freeze in easy-to-use units.
Fuyu Persimmon Jam
Makes 4 cups
1-1/2 lbs ripe Fuyu persimmons
3 cups sugar
3 oz liquid pectin
1/4 cup lemon juice
1. Cut off and discard stems from persimmons. Peel persimmons. Mash pulp or coarsely chop. You should have about 1-1/2 cups fruit.
2. In a bowl, mix fruit and sugar; let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mix pectin and lemon juice; add to fruit and stir gently for 3 minutes. Fill jars or freezer containers to 1/2 inch of rim. Cover, and let stand 12 to 16 hours at room temperature. You can store unopened jam in covered jars in the refrigerator up to 6 months, or freeze to store longer.
Makes 1-1/2 litres
Spoon over pound cake or ice cream.
4 to 5 lbs Fuyu persimmons
1-1/2 cups water
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brandy
3 Tbsp lemon juice
1. Cut off stems from persimmons; discard stems. Peel fruit with a sharp knife or vegetable peeler and discard peel. Cut persimmons crosswise into 1/2-inch thick rounds; discard any seeds.
2. In a large pan, bring water to a boil on high heat. Add 1/4 of the fruit at a time to the water; cover and, when boiling resumes, cook 1 minute. Lift fruit from pan with a slotted spoon. Measure water and add enough to make 2 cups; return to pan and set aside.
3. Firmly pack persimmons into 4 hot jars. 4. Add sugar to water and bring to a boil on high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and add brandy and lemon juice.
4. Pour enough hot syrup into jars to fill within 1/4 inch of rim. Store in the fridge when cool.