When ripe, persimmons are a deliciously sweet berry that come from the edible fruit trees in the genus, Diospyros which has been fondly referred to as the ‘Divine Fruit.’ They are native to China and have been cultivated in that region for thousands of years. Japan has been cultivating persimmons for about 1300 years. Japanese and Chinese cultivars were first introduced into the USA from 1870 to 1920. Today various cultivars of persimmons are grown in a dozen other countries, including orchards in the San Joaquin Valley of California.
Persimmons are typically available in USA markets from early fall through March. Look for plump fruit with glossy skin, with no blemishes or bruises. Ripe fruit is not hard, but not mushy. The two main types of persimmons popular in this country are the Hachiya and the Fuyu. The Hachiya is an astringent variety that is pale, heart or acorn-shaped, and unpleasantly tart until very ripe. Fuyu is a non-astringent variety that is orange, tomato-shaped, and a sweet variety that can be eaten while firm.
Ripe persimmons are soft to the touch and should be stored in the refrigerator, until ready to eat. Firm persimmons will continue to ripen at room temperature. To expedite the ripening process, place the fruit where it will receive sunlight for several days. You can also place persimmons in a container with apples, pears or bananas to speed ripening.
Nutrition and Health Benefits
Persimmons are an excellent source of the immune building, antioxidant vitamin C, and provitamin A beta-Carotene, which has been used to reduce the risk of breast cancer in premenopausal women, and to lower the risks of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. Persimmons are also a nutrient rich source of iron, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and dietary fiber.
Try our easy dessert recipe while persimmons are still in season.
Broiled Persimmons with Ginger Mascarpone Cheese
4 ripe persimmons
1 fresh lime, quartered (Reserve 1 tablespoon lime juice for cheese topping)
9 ounces Mascarpone cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground Ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coconut palm sugar
- Slice fresh persimmons in half crosswise. Place halves skin side down in a baking tray. Drizzle raw honey on top of each half.
- Place baking tray of persimmons under a broiler and broil until tops are caramelized and golden brown, for approximately 7 minutes.
- While the fruit is broiling, whisk the mascarpone cheese, one tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, ground ginger, and vanilla extract together in a mini food processor or in a bowl using an electric mixer.
- Remove hot tray from oven and squeeze fresh lime juice over each persimmon half.
- Place hot, broiled persimmons on a serving platter. Top each half with a dollop of the Ginger Mascarpone cheese. Sprinkle coconut palm sugar on the cheese topping and serve immediately.
Deborah Tukua is the editor of Journey to Natural Living and the author of the healthy, fresh from the blender recipe book, Naturally Sweet Blender Treats. Check out Lowell and Deborah's super sturdy and handsome DIY Gardening Potting Bench Plans. Deborah is a freelance writer for the Farmers' Almanac and Chiropractic Economics magazine and author of the book, Marketing Strategies for Chiropractic Success.