I bought a bunch of produce from the Peter Bigfoot and the Reevis Mountain folks when they were in town a little over a week ago. Along with fresh kale and greens, I got a flat of beautiful persimmons.
These fall/winter fruits, native to China, are absolutely delicious and sweet. Every morning I was chopping them up and sprinkling chunks over my oatmeal. A couple days ago, however, I cut into a persimmon that was not so tasty. The minute I popped a piece in my mouth, I was unpleasantly surprised by a chalky and extremely bitter taste.
As it turns out, I bit into an under-ripened Hachiya persimmon, which is an astringent variety. If you want to eat a raw persimmon, don’t eat the Hachiya unless it is mushy to the touch. The Hachiya variety is shaped like an acorn, and if you eat it raw before it is fully ripe, your mouth will be overwhelmed by the taste of bitter tannins.
The Fuyu persimmon, on the other hand, is edible raw, regardless of its firmness. It is shaped like a mini-pumpkin.
As a side note, beyond their unpleasant flavor, eating large quantities of raw, under-ripe persimmons can lead to phytobezoars, which can form when the tannins come in contact with weak acids in the stomach.
To speed up the ripening process, set persimmons in light for several days, wrap them in paper, or store them in a dry container with an apple, pear, or banana (all of which give off ethylene and speed up ripening).
Oh, and last but not least, persimmons are good sources of vitamins A, C, B6 and manganese.
Jenn Walker began writing for Globe Miami Times in 2012 and has been a contributor ever since. Her work has also appeared in Submerge Magazine, Sacramento Press, Sacramento News & Review and California Health Report. She currently teaches Honors English at High Desert Middle School and mentors Globe School District’s robotics team.