My persimmon experience isn’t particularly far-ranging, so when I picked up some at the farmers market a few weeks ago, I did some asking around.
As it turns out, people either love them (sweet and delicious) or hate them (sour and astringent). And only a few people ever cooked them, most choosing to eat the fruits out of hand. Either I have special persimmon-friendly taste buds or have been extraordinarily lucky in my persimmon purchasing.
The ones I’ve tasted have always been mildly sweet with a creamy texture that begged to be put into a baked good. It does, however, take some time to get used to this thing that looks sort of like an oddly colored tomato the color of a pumpkin but tastes like neither of those things.
According to Barron’s “Food Lover’s Companion,” persimmons in the U.S. are usually Hachiya, or Japanese persimmons. They’re also called kaki, which is the kind I found at the market. These round, bright orange fruits are soft and can be sour when eaten too soon. Fuyu persimmons, also bright orange, is still firm when ripe and, according to the book, not at all astringent.
Persimmons are in season from October to February and should be plump and soft without being mushy. The skin should be smooth and glossy. Unripe fruits can be stored at room temperature until they’re ready to eat, then in the refrigerator for up to three days.
The persimmons I purchased were perfectly ripe and were immediately sliced. The whole fruit, except the stems and leaves, can be eaten. After eating our fill, the rest were pureéd with an eye toward making a bread before my sweet tooth intervened and cookies went into the oven.
Paired with walnuts and spices, these cookies are the perfect late fall and early winter treat.
While baking, they fill the house with a lovely smell and when they come out of the oven are a golden brown with flecks of warm orange. I found they were also a good foil for this season’s flood of pumpkin-flavored treats, and were beloved by adults and children alike, though the children did wish they had some chocolate in them. Of course.
Beth Colvin is The Advocate’s assistant Food editor. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.