Earlier this year, when I won an award from the Washington State Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, I (and the other award recipients) were asked to name our favorite fruit or vegetable. As they introduced each winner at the awards ceremony, they mentioned our produce pick.
I had picked kale, because there’s no secret that I love this leafy green (and that love began way before kale became trendy, thank you). No sooner had I reclaimed my seat after collecting my award, when I received a scolding text from a fellow student who was somewhere else in the audience:
I do love persimmons, but I apparently didn’t have persimmons on the brain in spring, when they are not in season. Fortunately, the are in season now, and I’m getting my annual fill. Persimmons are not the most ubiquitous of fruits, and I’ve run into several people recently who have never tried one.
I always preach the merits of this vibrantly colored, somewhat odd-looking fruit (many newbies think it’s an orange-colored heirloom tomato of some sort), but also hand down one stern warning: Be careful of which persimmon variety you buy!
There are two main varieties in stores. Fuyu, pictured above, and Hachiya. Fuyu is flat-bottomed and squatty. Hachiya is heart shaped. Fuyu can be eaten firm or soft (although they are best when at least a little bit soft). If you eat a Hachiya persimmon before it is so ripe that it’s practically jellified, you will get a nasty case of cotton mouth from the astringency. (For more on that joyful experience, read this 2010 post). I think that’s one reason that Hachiya persimmons are usually used for baking.
I don’t buy Hachiya persimmons anymore, because I feel like I could let them ripen until they disintegrate and they wouldn’t be ripe enough. And why should I hassle with that when my beloved Fuyus are so accommodating?
Persimmon season won’t last too much longer, so don’t delay? In Seattle, my favorite places to buy them are Asian markets (such as Uwajimaya) and my local produce stand. The specimen pictured came from Costco (in an eight-pack, naturally).