Fruits like apples, bananas, pears, oranges, and berries are just a few of the most common types of fruits people love to incorporate into their diets to stay healthy — particularly here in the U.S. But have you ever considered working something more exotic into your fruit selection, like learning how to eat a persimmon?
The popularity of this fruit is on the rise for its delicious taste and rich health benefits. But before you run out to your local supermarket or farmers market to look for some, you’ll need to know a few things about this fruit first.
What Are Persimmons?
Persimmons are an ancient fruit originating from China that have spawned hundreds of different varieties. Many are now grown today in California. The fruit looks sort of like a cross between a tomato and a bell pepper with a big green leaf on top, varying in color from a yellowish orange to dark orange or even red.
Look to your local farmers market or supermarket’s produce section in the fall for persimmons, which is when they’re in season. You should be able to find them starting in September up until about mid-December, peaking in season around November.
The fruit is generally known to have a sweet, tart taste to it, but you’ll need to know the difference between the two main varieties that are commercially available. The hachiya is the name for the astringent type while the non-astringent persimmons are referred to as fuyu.
The Difference Between Hachiya and Fuyu Persimmons
Persimmons certainly are tasty, but you must be able to distinguish between hachiya and fuyu persimmons since each will taste different according to how ripe they are. You can tell the two varieties apart by looking at their size and shape.
Hachiya persimmons are the larger type that take on an acorn-like shape. Fuyu are smaller than the hachiya variety and look more like a squashed tomato. Below, you'll see a hachiya on the right and a fuyu on the left.
Hachiya persimmons need to be perfectly ripe if you want to avoid getting hit with an intensely tart taste. It takes a few weeks for them to fully ripen, and you can tell that they’re ready to eat when their skin takes on a texture that’s very soft and squishy.
If you need to speed up the ripening process of a hachiya persimmon, you can throw it in a paper bag along with an apple or a banana. Make sure to eat it before it’s overripe, because by then it may be more mushy and messy than you’d probably prefer.
Fuyu persimmons, which are the sweeter variety, are a bit easier to deal with since they can be eaten even when not fully ripe. You can slice them up like apples and enjoy their sweetness while they're still very firm and crisp.
Health and Nutritional Benefits of Persimmons
Persimmons are very rich in vitamins A and C, as well as fiber. One study found that a persimmon a day may even be better for you than the old adage of an apple a day since they contain much higher concentrations of fiber, minerals, and phenolic compounds that help fight heart disease and stroke.
If you struggle to keep your daily fiber intake up, persimmons may be just what you need since the average 100-gram fruit tends to have twice as much fiber as an apple. They also contain a higher amount of antioxidants than apples and offer significantly more sodium, magnesium, calcium, copper, iron, and zinc.
One good sized, American-grown persimmon measuring about 2.5 inches in diameter and weighing about 168 grams offers around 6 grams of fiber at 120 calories. The calories mainly come from the natural sugars (about 25 grams) in the fruit. They have virtually zero fat content.
How to Eat a Persimmon
Since fuyus have a similar texture and crispness to apples, you can cut them up and eat them just like that. You could even bite right into them like you would with apples.
Perfectly ripe hachiyas, however, can be a bit sloppy to eat straight. You can cut them in half and use a spoon to scoop out and eat their juicy flesh.
You’ll get the full nutritional benefits of persimmons if you eat them raw. Adding them to other foods you enjoy like fresh salads and smoothies similar to the way you’d use any other fruit is also a nice way to shake up some of your favorite meals and snacks.
Here are a couple additional persimmon recipes you may want to try.
Fuyu Persimmon Fruit Salad
3 fuyu persimmons
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
7 - 10 fresh mint leaves
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
Chop the persimmons into small pieces about half an inch in size and remove any seeds. Use the same chopping method for the apple. You can optionally peel the persimmons and apple first, but you’ll get more nutrition by leaving the skin on.
Stack the mint leaves, roll them up together and slice thin pieces off the end. Add all ingredients together in a bowl, toss gently, and enjoy!
Hachiya Persimmon Dairy-Free, Sugar-Free Ice Cream
2 perfectly ripe hachiya persimmons
1/4 unsweetened almond milk or coconut milk
Put the persimmons in your freezer and let them freeze overnight. They should be completely frozen and not squishy at all the next day.
Peel the skin from the still very frozen persimmons, slice them up into smaller chunks, and throw them in your food processor. Add the almond milk or coconut milk and mix until all the ingredients become thick and creamy like ice cream.
Serve right away, or put it in the freezer to save for later. Perfect for a sweet tooth!
Adding more worldly fruits like persimmons to your basic variety of fruits is a fantastic way to surprise your taste buds and keep a healthy diet more interesting. You may also want to check out this Sweet Ginger Apple Cake Recipe with Persimmon and this Quinoa Salad with Pomegranates and Persimmons for even more recipe ideas!
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