Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter: A Persimmon A Day

Persimmon enthusiasts require no special inducements to consume this superb fruit, which is now in season in Northern California. But for those less familiar with persimmons who hesitate to expand their fruit repertoire, it may be an added incentive to know that persimmons are among the healthiest fruits ever cultivated.

Rich in beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin and cryptoxanthin as well as vitamin C, folate, potassium, manganese, copper and phosphorus, the persimmon ranks high as a super food which is also affordable and easy to incorporate into one's daily diet. Its plentiful nutrients are especially beneficial during the winter months when the supply and variety of fresh fruit is limited and cold weather viruses are making the rounds.

The Japanese Fuyu persimmon pictured above is a non-astringent variety which is edible when firm. Fuyus may be stored in a cool place and allowed to ripen gradually; they will continue to deepen in color and sweetness while softening only slightly. With proper handling, Fuyus will keep for weeks, long after the harvest is over.

Persimmon season is short. Demand for the crop is modest and it is not a highly commercialized fruit, so the number of persimmon orchards in California is still small. When you spot persimmons in your produce market, you might want to take home a good quantity before the harvest ends, which can happen rather abruptly, usually sometime in mid December.

At their most nutritious when eaten raw, persimmons are excellent eaten out of hand or sliced into salads; they travel well for portable snacks. But my very favorite way to enjoy them is as a persimmon smoothie, which can be made in seconds. Simply cut up a persimmon and process in a blender with nut milk or plain soy milk until smooth; add a little nutmeg if you wish. Serve in a bowl or glass; you'll need a spoon to savor this sublimely luxurious winter delight!

Note: See persimmon smoothie recipe in a previous post titled "Perfect Persimmon Smoothie".