This article was originally published in November 2015
There are nearly 200 varieties of persimmon, but the most common are the round, flattened-tomato-like fuyu and the teardrop-shaped hachiya. The differences in their looks are actually less important than the difference in their astringency.
The fuyu, a sweet persimmon, is meant to be eaten firm and is frequently served raw in salads. The hachiya, an astringent variety, is extremely tannic until it is completely ripe — so ripe that the flesh is as soft as custard. If you try to sneak a bite ahead of their ripening schedule, there’s no avoiding the pucker face. You’ll know they’re ready to eat once you see the color deepen from delicate orange to a deep, vibrant, nearly red shade.
The fruit of a persimmon is so smooth and creamy it’s perfect for what might be the world’s easiest dessert: freeze a whole fruit (one per person) for between 2 and 4 hours. Slice off the top, place in a small dish and serve frozen, to be eaten just like sorbet with a small spoon. If you want to dress it up, pass a small pitcher of cream around the table, for people to add if they like. This works for either variety, as long as they’re completely ripe.
Cooking with persimmons
Go sweet or savory and use just one or both varieties of persimmon. Whatever recipe you choose, you’ll discover a rich fruit with a fascinating flavor.