BY DEBRA J. MORRIS
When the seasons change from summer to fall, persimmon trees begin to burst with gorgeous, bright orange fruit. Their autumn colors just shout “fall is here!” Your farmers market booths will begin to fill with this beautiful and delicious fruit this month.
Stroll through the market and you’ll see two distinct shapes and varieties of persimmons. Although there are hundreds of varieties, only two principal types are well known here in California, the Hachiya and Fuyu:
• Hachiya persimmons are a beautiful fruit about the size of a medium peach, acorn-shaped with a shiny, bright orange skin and pale green papery leafy cap. As the fruit ripens, the skin dulls and takes on the texture of a water balloon. The astringent tannin evaporates and the fruit becomes sweeter with an apricot-like flavor, although some liken the flavor to plums, even pumpkins.
• Fuyu persimmons are squatter and rounder than the Hachiya. The color is a yellow-orange and not as brilliant as the Hachiya. It almost looks like a tiny pumpkin or perhaps a slightly flattened tomato, but unlike the Hachiya, the Fuyu can be consumed immediately. It is crisp, lightly sweet and crunchy, like a Fuji apple.
Both varieties are honey-like, sweet, rich, and taste somewhat like a cross between apricot and pumpkin when ripe and the peels are edible. Once you get them home, store both varieties at room temperature and eat them within a few days. You can store them in a paper bag to ripen them faster. Purchasing them at your local farmers’ markets assures you that they are of the highest quality and flavor. You will also be supporting local farmers and the communities in which they grow their fabulous produce.
Here are some ways to enjoy this lovely fall fruit.
• Persimmon cookies or persimmon bread. The Hachiya variety is best for this because they soften nicely and are easily incorporated into your recipe.
• Persimmon salad made with sliceable Fuyu persimmons. Use just as you would an apple.
• Persimmon jam or persimmon butter is made with Hachiya persimmons.
• Roasted persimmons for a tasty side dish or accompaniment to roasts or as a side dish. Use Fuyu persimmons for this because they hold up under roasting conditions.
• Persimmon crostini with brie or goat cheese. Sliced Fuyu persimmons on toasted baguette with cheese.
You’ll find Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons at your farmers market from growers like Resendiz Farms and J&J Ramos Farms, both out of Hughson. Your farmers’ market is the best place to find fresh-from-the-farm produce that you can’t find elsewhere!