With an intoxicating flavor of honeyed pumpkin and ripe apricot, persimmons are a fresh replacement for the usual fall suspects, apples and pears. Just one boasts about half the vitamin C and a quarter of the fiber you need each day. Once a favorite of native Americans, persimmons still grow wild along the East Coast but most of what you will find in the markets are Japanese varieties—Hachiya and Fuyu—that are now grown in California and the South, and are at their peak in November. You may also see the lesser-known Maru, or Cinnamon, persimmon, named for its spicy color. Hachiyas are most commonly used in baking. Shaped like acorns and very soft, almost mushy, when ready to eat, they will leave you with a bitter taste and dry mouth if you eat one before it’s ripe. Fuyus are less punishing if eaten too soon; they’re slightly firm when ripe and look like squat, flat tomatoes. Be sure you know the difference. Eat them plain or, for a simple delicious recipe, combine diced Fuyu with minced onion, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice and a pinch of salt for a fresh salsa to serve on fish tacos or with chips.
By Jenna B. Damareck