A couple of years ago, I didn’t even know what a persimmon was. I overheard a few of my graduate school colleagues chatting about them and how they were eagerly awaiting persimmon season. I purchased a few of the shiny orange fruits from the grocery store shortly thereafter, and am now hooked on their sweet, slightly chewy texture.
How to eat: Persimmons offer variety to your seasonal winter fruit repertoire. You can eat them solo, peel and all, in salads or slice them for yogurt parfaits (my personal favorite — see recipe below), or include them in your savory grain dishes or baked goods recipes.
Your persimmon is ripe and ready to eat when it is easy to remove the calyx, or fibrous leaf, atop the fruit. Should you opt to eat the fruit prior to this, you might find it bitter-tasting, as some varietals have a high tannin content.
How to select: Select a persimmon that is soft to the touch. It may even have a few brown imperfections on its surface. Your produce department may only have persimmons that are hard and unripe — these will just take some time to soften up in a paper bag at home.
Varietals: The Asian (or Japanese) persimmon is the most common varietal. The heart-shaped Hachiya is one common Asian persimmon with a high tannin content. I once made the mistake of eating one prior to ripening and had to spit it out — I couldn’t believe how “mealy” it tasted. I only made that mistake once! The American varietal, native to the East Coast, is round or oval, usually orange-yellow in color and can also taste bitter prior to ripening.
Health benefits: Persimmons are good sources of fiber, potassium, calcium and iron. They also contain vitamin C; one American persimmon contains approximately 80 percent of your daily recommended vitamin C intake and nearly 20 percent of your daily recommended iron. The Asian persimmon contains lower amounts of vitamin C (9 percent) and iron (1 percent) but clocks in at approximately 55 fewer calories than its American counterpart.
What is your favorite way to eat or cook with persimmons?
Recipe developed by Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN
1 persimmon, ripe, cut into eighths
½ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
¼ cup pomegranate seeds
2 tablespoon unsalted almonds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
- Combine all ingredients and stir to mix. Add other fruit as desired, i.e. apple or banana slices, mango chunks, berries, etc.