Now that fall is underway (sort of), Japanese persimmons are beginning to appear in Houston's grocery stores and Asian food markets. Other names for this tasty fruit include kaki, fruit of the gods, honey apple and Sharon fruit. Cultivated Japanese persimmons are sweeter and tastier than the wild ones you might remember eating in the woods. These persimmons are yellow-orange or red and either chewy, crunchy or soft depending on the variety.
Persimmons grow all over the place in the Orient where they are one of the most popular fruits of all. The first Japanese persimmons were brought to the US in the mid-1800s, after Admiral Perry discovered them in Japan. Varieties were grafted on to the native American persimmon trees in Georgia and Florida after years of experimentation, before their cultivation spread to California and throughout the Gulf Coast area. Japanese persimmon trees respond well to organic cultivation and they don't need much or any sprays against diseases or pests. Did you know that golf clubs used to be made of persimmon wood because it's so dense and strong?
Different Persimmon Varieties
There are various types of persimmons you can try, with one of the local favorites being the Fuyu. This Japanese variety is sweet and crunchy. Hiratanenashi persimmons are seedless and flat, with thick skins, while Saijo persimmons are small, long and quite bitter until ripe when they become very sweet. The Giombo variety offers an astringent and tangy flavor, as does the Brad Sample persimmon. The Suruga persimmon is crisp and sweet. The Fuyu is considered the sweetest type and you can currently buy those at H-E-B, Central Market or pretty much any Asian grocery store.
Persimmons are best enjoyed with a spoon when fully ripe. Simply cut off the top and dig in with a spoon to get all that delicious, sweet flesh. Alternatively, mix chunks or slices into yogurt or spread them on toast like you would jelly. Hachiya persimmons can be used in cakes, breads and cookies. Persimmons may be added to salads, and every part is edible except the stem, including the skin and seeds. This fruit is rich in Vitamins A and C, along with manganese, fiber and B-complex vitamins. Persimmons are low in fat and calories.
Recipe: Persimmon Jam
This classic persimmon jam recipe is really easy to make and you only need four ingredients. The flavor is sweet and rich and the texture is nice and smooth. This recipe makes four pints of persimmon jam.
- 3 pounds ripe persimmons
- juice of 2 lemons
- 7 cups white sugar
- 6 ounces liquid pectin
- Wash, peel and de-seed the persimmons, then put the pulp in a pot with the lemon juice and sugar. Mix well.
- Bring the mixture to a boil over a high heat, stirring often, and cook until the sugar dissolves.
- Let the jam mixture boil for a minute, then take the pot off the heat and stir in the pectin.
- Use a metal spoon to skim the mixture well, then divide between four hot, sterilized pint jars or eight half-pint ones before sealing. Stored in attractive little jars, these make cute gifts!
Stay tuned every week to learn more about what's new and fresh at the market and where you can enjoy the tasty bounty of the season.