Hey, gorgeous! Persimmons liven up your holiday table
Nov./Dec. 2009 California Country magazine
Story by Andy Powning
Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons are harvested October through December.
Grown primarily in San Diego County and the Central Valley, there are two main persimmon types. These types—the Fuyu and the Hachiya—are distinctly different from one another, each with interesting qualities.
First to ripen is the Fuyu variety, a squat, flat-shaped fruit that remains firm when ripe. Harvested October through November, the bright orange-hued Fuyu is delicious simply eaten out of hand, as you would an apple or pear.
But sliced horizontally, the Fuyu reveals a beautiful star-shaped marking and is an excellent ingredient for a festive salad. Try any combination of radicchio, frisée, arugula or butter lettuce, then add toasted pecans, ripe pear or apple slices and blue cheese. Dress with a simple vinaigrette and finish with a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds and edible flower petals—colorful, seasonal flavors and textures combining late autumn’s bounty!
More ideas? Make a mixed fall fruit crisp or cobbler with Fuyus, apples, pears and cranberries. You can also grill Fuyu slices or make chutney with plumped-up dried fruit like raisins and apricots—either of which pairs beautifully with pork.
Hachiya variety persimmons are harvested a bit later, around late November through December. Their rich orange skin and distinct acorn shape make this one gorgeous fruit for displaying on your holiday table.
Hachiyas ripen slowly to a translucent, gelatinous state—sort of like “persimmon Jell-O” in a natural pouch. If you eat them before they’re ripe, their high tannin content will have your mouth puckering and you wishing you had waited.
Some serve ripe Hachiya persimmons straight up, in a bowl with a spoon for a simple, fast dessert. Others freeze them first, so it’s like instant persimmon sorbet. But the quintessential use of Hachiyas is in persimmon pudding, a classic holiday dessert that is a rich, wonderfully spicy, moist cake. Incredible served slightly warm with whipped cream, a fine dice of Fuyu persimmons and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds, nothing says “happy holidays” like a persimmon pudding!
It’s always harvest time in California! Here are four other seasonal favorites to enjoy throughout November and December.
Kiwifruit: Furry-skinned, egg-shaped and packed with vitamin C, California kiwifruit is now in season. Peel and slice horizontally to reveal gorgeous concentric rings of emerald green, a light green center and a flurry of tiny, edible black seeds. Perfect in fruit salads or on top of a fruit tart.
Pecans: An up-and-coming California crop, this rich-flavored holiday favorite is at home in cookies (think homemade Pecan Sandies), in salads or toasted with other nuts for a luxurious party appetizer.
Brussels sprouts: Wait! Don’t wrinkle your nose. They’re being harvested fresh as you read. Try halving, blanching in boiling salted water for 5 minutes, then finishing in a sauté pan with butter, sage and chopped toasted hazelnuts. Delicious!
Edible flowers: There are always new varieties of edible blossoms to add that elegant and spirit-lifting splash of color. Calendula, pansies, violas, carnations, bachelor buttons and nasturtium are all edible and await any drab plate. Simply pull the petals apart and sprinkle away over salads and desserts.
Andy Powning is a produce specialist with GreenLeaf, a San Francisco-based produce company. Send questions or comments to him at email@example.com.