by Emma Chow
In May, Persimmons are at their best and most delicious.
As you might have seen in our Guide to Selecting Fruit, choose beautifully coloured deep orange specimens that are intact.
There are two commonly available varieties of persimmon:
Hachiya (the soft kind) and Fuyu (the firm and crisp kind). If you’re not familiar with persimmons, they can be alluring but daunting. You could mistake them for a large tomato.
Persimmons have high amounts of fibre, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese; much higher than apples. They also contain Vitamin C and Beta-carotene. They are technically a berry though not recognised as such.
The Hachiya type of Persimmon is less accessible than the crisp and crunchy Fuyu. While the Fuyu is well loved for its crisp, clean and sweet taste. Some people say it is like the cross between an apple and a pumpkin. Hachiya persimmons are bitter tasting when firm; they must mature to complete ripeness before they can be eaten. Hachiyas are completely ripe when the insides are pulpy and jelly like, but the thin skin stays intact. Some might think this is a rotten persimmon, but this actually how the fruit is supposed to grow. I find the flavour of Hachiyas to be like a combination of vanilla and stone fruits.
Here are 5 great ways to try and use persimmons.
Slices or small chunks of Fuyu persimmon are delicious in green salads, paired with avocado, fennel, pomegranates, tomatoes, really any salad that could use some sweetness and crisp texture in the mix.
Next time you feel like a fruit tart with a puff pastry base, or want to make a different version of our Apple Frangipane Tart, try using thin slices of Fuyu persimmon instead for a splash or orange colour and a vanilla like fragrance.
Hunt down some Hachiya persimmons; they make a delicious breakfast fruit. In a bowl put a scoop of natural, Greek or coconut yogurt and drizzle with a little honey or agave. Scoop out the insides of the persimmon and add to the bowl. Top with muesli or granola.
While Asian style dried Persimmons are labour intensive, that wily Martha Stewart made up a simple oven version. Preheat your oven to 120 degrees Celsius. Thinly slice a couple of Fuyu persimmons from top to bottom, so that the centre core is in the middle of each slice. Lay slices in one layer on wire rack over a baking tray. Place in the oven and bake for about 2 hours until the slices are dry and starting to curl. Cool and keep in the fridge.
Knock together a Hachiya persimmon sorbet. Make a sugar syrup with 1 cup of sugar and 1 cup of water. Scoop out the flesh of 4-5 Hachiya persimmons, and process or mash to make it smoother and easier to work with. Add the pulp to the sugar syrup with the lemon juice. Stir to combine and allow to cool. If you have an ice cream maker, pour it into the machine and follow the instructions. If not, pour the mixture into a shallow tray and place in the freezer. You can remove and whisk the mixture every hour or allow to freeze for 3 hours, process in food processor until smooth and then replace in the freezer for another 3-4 hours.
About Emma Chow:
I am 28 years old, mother of two little boys aged 4 and 6 months. I’m of Chinese Malaysian background, but I was born in Australia and am an embarrassment to my mother as I only speak English and my only interest in my heritage is the food. I live in the Dandenong Ranges in Avonsleigh. I faffed around with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Creative Writing before becoming a pasty chef’s apprentice. I was inspired to learn about pastry after spending a couple of months in Europe eating far too much and getting very fat. After quitting my apprenticeship (because of some awkward circumstances) I worked as a chef in various cafes, catering businesses and an organic store. In the middle of all that I had my babies. But cooking professionally can make it hard to put the love in cooking at home so I traded it all in and am doing a Graduate Diploma in Counselling.
Working in commercial kitchens has taught me how to manage time, budget and waste in the kitchen. I try to use every bit of an ingredient I can and hate to throw out anything unnecessarily. The leftovers in our house are always eaten! At the end of the week our fridge is nearly empty. Commercial kitchens are dirty, noisy, hot, dangerous places. The work is gruelling and at the end of the day you’re exhausted, you stink and you’ve seen things you may never want to see again. When I was 35 and a half weeks pregnant with my first child, on my last day at work I had to do a weekend breakfast shift in the fancy café where I was employed. I cooked the hot breakfasts solo despite my giant belly and managed to pour some of a tray of just baked beans onto myself. It was hot enough that baby kicked me so hard and to this day I still have a scar on the left side of my stomach. Crazy job, don’t recommend it.
I’m probably a bit too obsessed with cakes and sweets, so please excuse me if my posts are a little on the sugary side.