By Jennifer Piette
As an East Coast girl there’s nothing I love more than the fluorescent fall foliage against the crisp autumn air, something we don’t get a lot of here in L.A. with endless palms and succulent yuccas and hot Santa Ana October winds! But we do get an abundance of beautiful colors in the produce and fruit coming into season right now: red pomegranates, orange kabocha squash, and perhaps the most luscious orange of all comes in the amazing array of persimmons ripening right now.
But persimmons can be a bit confusing — if any of you has ever bitten into an unripe Hachiya persimmon you might be twice shy of this beautiful fruit — so let’s take a closer look.
The two most prevalent varieties at the markets right now are fuyu and hachiya persimmons.
Fuyu are the squat-shaped persimmons which are eaten while still hard and crisp. Perfect chopped into a salad, or eaten like an apple, they are a very different texture and experience from their distant cousin the Hachiya.
Hachiya are more elongated and need some time to go quite soft before they are ready to eat. Fully ripe, they should feel squishy like a water balloon or over-ripe tomato. Be patient, if you attempt to eat one before it has softened, it can be unpalatably astringent (or ‘furry’ tasting) as Hachiyas contain very high levels of soluble tannins. In other words, they can leave a nasty taste in your mouth.
Once ripe, my favorite way to eat a Hachiya Persimmon, is to cut off the top where the leaves are, and just dig in with a spoon, like a natural-made jelly cup. The texture will be gooey, sweet, and delicious.
But there’s more to Hachiyas than that: it is the Hachiya persimmon which is also traditionally dried — hung from a string and dried in the sun until it becomes a dense, sweet treat particularly enjoyed around the holidays. Two of my favorite persimmon growers — Eugene Etheridge of Etheridge Organics and Scott Peacock of Peacock Farms, have been perfecting their technique for years, and we love their dried persimmons as a really special treat, usually ready towards the end of the year. Eugene’s dried persimmons can be found at the Saturday Calabasas market. Looking a bit shrivelly and not particularly beautiful, they simply melt in your mouth, a bit like dense Turkish Delight. Scott Peacock, meanwhile, has figured out a secret method of slicing them, and somehow they remain moist and delicious in his little plastic bags with the lovely Peacock sticker on them. He also includes them in his “Fancy Trail Mix”, with nuts and raisins.
Try them all and let us know which are your favorites. The Giant Fuyu Persimmons in season now, or the Hachiyas — oh, and I haven’t even mentioned the chocolate persimmon. Next time… : )
This week, Out of the Box Collective has included Rancho Santa Cecilia Hachiya Persimmons in the Large Real Food Boxes, and Peacock Giant Fuyu Persimmons in the Fruit Selection also available on Amazon Fresh.