Monday, November 8, 2010
Persimmon season is here, and the first Hachiyas and Fuyus are arriving in the markets. These are the two persimmon varieties most familiar to North Americans, at least by sight if not by name; Hachiyas are tall and pointy, shaped like a big acorn; Fuyus are flat and squat, resembling a tomato in shape.
The most important fact about Hachiya persimmons is their astringency; they contain a high percentage of tannins which slowly disappear as the fruit ripens. Eating a partially ripe Hachiya is a very unpleasant experience and many people never eat another after encountering the intensely bitter astringent taste of incompletely ripened fruit. (This does guarantee that Hachiya aficionados get to horde more fruit for themselves).
However, a perfectly ripe Hachiya is one of the most delicious fruits on earth; it is worth learning how to correctly judge its ripeness in order to enjoy this exceptional treat. The Hachiya must be totally soft from tip to stem in order to be edible, so soft that ripe ones are almost impossible to transport home from the market undamaged.
It's best to purchase Hachiyas which are firm or just slightly soft. Select those which are deep orange in color, smooth and free of breaks or bruises in the skin. Some Hachiyas have darkish spots from sun exposure as in the photo above, but this pigmentation does not detract from the quality of the fruit. If the skin of the persimmon is intact, it can be allowed to ripen for as long as necessary without spoiling.
Store Hachiyas at room temperature in a location where you will be able to monitor their progress daily. If you have purchased a good quantity at the height of the season, most likely the individual persimmons will ripen at different rates. Very ripe Hachiyas can be held for a few days in the fridge but for optimal flavor, plan on using the fruit as soon as it ripens.
The persimmon season is short, so if you find good quality fruit in your market, don't delay. Once you've tasted your first ultra sweet velvety Hachiya persimmon, you'll want more. Gather your persimmons today, or wait for next season!
Decadent Hachiya Dessert
This recipe creates a beautiful luxurious dessert in seconds. Blend very ripe room temperature Hachiya persimmons with soy or nut milk and flavorings until smooth. Serve immediately in small glass dessert bowls.
2 Hachiya persimmons, calyx removed
1 cup soy milk or nut milk (+ a little more if needed)
1 pinch each: nutmeg, cinnamon, powdered ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Note: Serves 2 slightly greedy persimmon lovers.