Persimmons are intriguing and perplexing fall fruits. Their attractive deep orange skin is hard to miss, yet they are often passed over as being too strange. Most common here in Santa Barbara are the Japanese Hachiya (a rounder, more acorn shape) and the Fuyu (with a squat shape and flat bottom). There are two types of persimmons: astringent or non-astringent. Astringent persimmons like the Hachiya are near unpalatable until they are very ripe, almost pudding-in-the-skin. They are commonly used as baking persimmons, though they can be eaten raw. The non-astringent persimmons (like the tomato shaped Fuyu) maintain an apple-like consistency when ripe and can be eaten fresh. If you're in doubt, don't hesitate to ask at the market which one you're dealing with.
The ancient Greeks referred to them as “the fruit of the gods,” perhaps based on their health benefits or perhaps because of their delicate and sweet flavor. In Santa Barbara they serve as a seasonal indicator, their intense orange to reddish skin and flesh marking the coming of the Thanksgiving season. Persimmons also make a beautiful garden tree -- staying reasonably small. The leaves turn brilliant orange and yellow before falling leaving the bare branches hung with ripening persimmons.
They make a fantastic centerpiece or can add a Fall splash of color to any mantle. Head over to Santa Barbara Chic to see the incredible persimmon centerpiece that Kelly put together, pictured below.
We love this simple recipe for Persimmon Cookies as a way to enjoy this seasonal star with the warm spices typical of this time of year. This recipe produces a moist, cake like cookie.
Makes 2-3 dozen, depending on size
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening (we prefer the non-hydrogenated kind)
1 cup persimmon pulp
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. cloves
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup raisins or dried currants
Mix dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Cream the shortening and sugar until smooth. Add persimmon pulp and eggs to the shortening mixture then add in dry ingredients, mixing well. Drop by spoonful onto greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.