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Have you tried persimmons yet?

Persimmon season is coming, people. Persimmon season is in mid-autumn, after most trees have lost their leaves. Persimmons are usually a reddish-orange color, and look sort of like a tomato because of the prominent, green calyx. Many people have been turned off by the fruit because they have eaten them unripe. When persimmons are not completely ripe, they are bitter and astringent. But if you wait until they are so ripe that they are mushy-soft and you can actually see through the skin a little bit and see the veining underneath, then they are ready and they are DELICIOUS. They are very sweet with no acidity but a rich flavor, the way dates are. The flavor is a rich and sweet and honey like with light spice and pumpkin notes. They are VERY TASTY and WORTH TRYING.

I have posted some pictures so you know what you are looking for. One of the most common varieties you find in stores is the 'hachiya', which has an acorn-like shape - this is the one I buy. The other kind you might find is called 'fuyu' and is smaller. The fuyu variety is what is called a non-astringent variety - it is NOT disgusting and astringent when uner-ripe. There are other non-astringent varieties - but the only ones I have ever seen in stores is hachiya and fuyu, so I always get the hachiya, because the types where you have to wait until they're fully ripe are so much better when they are fully ripe than the non-astringent ones ever will be. The only advantage of the non-astringent types is that they are harder/"crunchier" than the non-astringent types, which can only be eaten when they are soft like pudding.

After I buy some, I store them calyx (the green leafy thing) side down so that they don't squish or become mis-shapen, and wait 2-3 days until they are ripe. Then you can peel them and eat up the flesh with a fork and knife - there may be a few large seeds.

Please give this fruit a chance. If you cannot find it, look in your typical affordable grocer, or in Asian communities/shops. Apparently the American species is common in the South (where I think they call them "pawpaws"), but the fruits are just left to rot on the ground after they fall off the tree! What a waste! More people need to know about this fruit both for their own enjoyment and so that the demand raises and I can find it in more shops (heehee).

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  1. A pawpaw is a totally different fruit and has no relation to a persimmon

    I'm more of a fuyu fan, but you make the 'hachiya' sound appealing. I'll have to do a back to back tasting of a ripe 'hachiya' and a fuyu. You don't want to let a fuyu get soft because it loses its taste.

    15 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I know what a pawpaw is - but I'm pretty sure that in the South they also call the local persimmons "pawpaws" - I read that somewhere. And papaya has been and in Australia still is called pawpaw. Different fruits have different and sometimes redundant names in different regions.

      1. re: peanuttree

        I really like the info you have provided on the persimmon and ginko. However, I would ask you to provide a link or reference about the American persimmon being called a pawpaw in the South. Or perhaps someone from the South can confirm that.

        The only connection between these two fruits is that they are both relatively unknown.

        In fact the USA Today article says "The pawpaw's official name is Asimina triloba but it also goes by false banana, custard apple, Michigan or Kentucky banana, and sometimes — mistakenly — papaya"

        Is it possible what you read said papaya and not paw paw? I can't find anything in Google connecting the two.

        Interesting about the American or wild persimmon. Never knew about it. The article said pioneers used the seeds to make a drink similar to coffee. I wonder if it is astringant like the 'hachiya'

        1. re: rworange

          I never said they were related - I could tell you myself that they are not. Stop looking so much into names, they rarely if ever make sense/are consistent with botany. The only way to be perfectly clear 100% of the time is to use scientific names, which is just silly most of the time (though I do that whenever I record what a new fruit/vegetable I'm trying tastes like) - just remember what the fruit looks like and buy it when you see it. I just remember reading the pawpaw thing somewhere.

          1. re: peanuttree

            The web is full of inaccuracies and it seems a shame to start something that might not be correct here. I am just asking the source of of that pawpaw/persimmon reference.

          2. re: rworange

            I can't speak for all Southerners, but my grandparents had a wild persimmon tree on their farm in North Carolina, and we always just called the fruit "persimmon." I'm not sure I ever heard anyone refer to it as "pawpaw," but there are great variations in names, not to mention pronunciations, for various foods across the South, so it's not impossible.

            My memory is that the American persimmon can be quite astringent/bitter. I didn't like it much as a child. This thread has made me interested in trying it again as an adult to see if my perception has changed.

            1. re: Low Country Jon

              yes - you just need to wait until it is fully ripe

              1. re: Low Country Jon

                Ah, got it ... wiki to the rescue ... the American persimmon is called a pawdad ... kind of close to pawpaw in sound ... have you heard of it as that?

                I got interested in pawpaws this year and did a lot of reading about them and never saw the reference to them being called persimmons. However, like astringant persiommons they need to be ripe and soft and they also are just left to fall to the ground uneaten except by wildlife.

                Gee. who knew there were so many types of persimmons.

                1. re: rworange

                  I never heard the term "pawdad" used either. (Funny, both terms sound like children's names for their grandfathers.)

                  I'm intrigued by the descriptions of pawpaws. Have you tried one yet? They sound like they would be really good, but then again, they are related to cherimoyas, which I've never found to be as tasty as their descriptions make them out to be. Of course, I may have only had inferior examples, who knows?

                  1. re: Low Country Jon

                    as peanut said, it's silly to use scientific names, but it would prevent a lot of confusion. that's never gonna happen...so apparently we're stuck on this merry-go-round.

                    as for the term "pawpaw," not only there actually an entirely different fruit with that name, it's also what some people in other areas of the world- including australia and areas of the u.k. - call papaya in some countries.

                    i say let's just keep it simple here in the states and call it a persimmon.

                    anyway, whatever you call it, it's delicious, skin and all.

                    1. re: Low Country Jon

                      Yeah, I just tried a pawpaw this year. Don't know. I'd have to try a few more to make a decision about if I like it or not. I agree about cherimoyas.

                      Pawpaws taste like ripe bananas with a texture like a mango. However there are a lot of different varieties of pawpaws. To me, it tasted a little to much like a banana bordering on going bad ... not quite, but that taste when you know its time to start thinking banana bread. I want to get a few more and try them in various stages of ripeness. I get the feeling that this is one of those fruits that is interesting to try but once I get my curiousity satisfied they will fall into the cherimoya category ... where I tried it and probably won't seek it out further.

                2. re: rworange

                  We just tasted the "paw paw" at the Farmer's Market in San Francisco. It tastes nothing like any persimmon I have ever enjoyed. The "paw paw" has a pronounced banana flavor, which the persimmon does not.

                3. re: peanuttree

                  i am from florida. in my experience (and my bro-in-law grows tropical fruits)persimmons are called persimmons. peanuttree and others, you hounds always impress me with your knowledge. thank you for sharing it with us all. you are so encouraging and wonder-ful!!!!

                  1. re: peanuttree

                    I grew up in NC and my grandmother regularly made persimmon pudding in the autumn - we had a couple of trees in our backyard. We never let them rot on the ground, and we never called them "pawpaws".

                  2. re: rworange

                    well yeah that's the thing - the non-astringent varieties are meant to be eaten when they're still a little firm, but this simply can't be done with the astringent varieties, which are nasty until they are jelly-soft ripe.

                    I'm just not a fan of the non-astringent types. Just not enough flavor for me - I don't need more fruit that is basically just sugar and flesh - I need big flavors (I'm one of those non-tasters genetically - plus I've burnt a lot of my taste buds away with spicy foods). And fully-ripe astringent type persimmons have this wonderful rich flavor that has hints of honey and a very light hint of sweet spice (like cinnamon), and the carotenoid taste of pumpkin, with a rich super-sweetness. They're just so tasty

                    1. re: rworange

                      In England, a pawpaw is what they call a papaya! And we often get persimmons that are called Sharon fruit.

                    2. As a passionate fruit eater, I can say without a doubt my favorite, and indeed one of my most favorite items fruit or otherwise that the earth yields to us naturally, is ripe persimmon. I wrote briefly about a nice persimmon experience while in Japan last year- http://www.chowhound.com/topics/347721 . This is fuyu persimmon season in Japan as well now and the variety is quite impressive. And the riper they get, the more complex their flavor becomes, although I sometimes prefer the crunchy consistency in less ripe ones. I'll be back in Japan in a few weeks and look forward to enjoying the final days of autumn and persimmon paradise. Thanks for reminding me!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Silverjay

                        Last year I was in Shizuoka at the end of Oct. It was the beginning of fuyu season, not the end. I smuggled some home! Oishi so.....

                        1. re: Leonardo

                          Hey Leonardo. Why no report about your trip to Shizuoka? Would love to hear about your experiences in Izu.

                      2. I know nothing about persimmons, but Ipicked up one persimmon after reading about them earlier on chowhound. I have no idea what variety it was, but it was shaped a bit like a flattish beef tomato. It was very hard and I expected it to ripen, but it didn't. I wasn't sure what to do with it, but this friend of mine put it directly on to the burner of my gas stove and roasted it black. She then peeled off the skin and we ate the insides. It was like some heavenly pudding. I have no idea if this is a common way to eat a persimmon, but it was delicious.

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: luckyfatima

                          the variety you got was a non-astringent type - these aren't meant to really ripen all that much, and this one just might have lost the ability to ripen due to refrigeration or from irradiation if it was shipped from another country or something - sometimes I buy mangos and they don't ripen.

                          1. re: luckyfatima

                            One way to "ripen" persimmons that were picked when unripe is to freeze them for a day or two. when defrosted, the texture softens and they are sweeter. This happens naturally when they are on the trees at frost time. Most american persimmons (that are being used by the pickers, at least) aren't picked until affter the first frost because of this. It aso works on the japanese ones as well.

                            1. re: chazzerking

                              The freeze thing didn't work for me very well. It softened the persimmon and didn't remove all the astringancy. They weren't inedible, but they weren't pleasant either.

                              So I did my back-to-back tasting on the hachiya and fuyu and I just prefer the flavor and texture of the fuyu. The hachiya I bought was top of the line from a vendor who sells them perfectly ripened. Just don't like the sliminess. I bought a few to ripen so maybe I'll try mixing them in some yogurt.

                              I had a new-to-me variety, Amagaki. It looks like a hachiya but is yellow. HOWEVER, like a fuyu it is ready to eat and crunchy. Marginally sweeter than a fuyu but pretty similar. Also had a chocolate persimmon which is the hard crunchy variety but a little more flavor. It does have a brown tint that makes it look like a persimmon gone bad ... and big seeds.

                              1. re: rworange

                                The freezing method worked pretty well for me. I think the key, as someone mentioned elsewhere, is to wait until the fruit is pretty much already ripe. The freezing, I think, is just a finishing touch. It definitely makes the skin wrinkled and somewhat translucent.

                                Funny, shortly after this thread began, I discovered my in-laws have a persimmon tree in their backyard. I snagged two from them and waited for them to ripen. And waited. It took two to three weeks for them to turn a conistent yellow-orange shade. Then I put them in the freezer, one just overnight, the other for 24+ hours. Both turned out well. I agree with the post that described the flavor as pumpkin and spice. It's very rich and not something I'd want to eat everyday for sure. I think I actually liked them best cooked. I sauteed/stewed some pieces with some slices of King Luscious apple along with some apple/sweet potato butter and used the resulting compote as a topping for waffles. Very tasty!

                          2. i adore persimmons! i get so excited when they start showing up this time of year.

                            i noticed a couple of statements about peeling before eating...however, the skin is completely edible, and call me crazy, but i like it.

                            1. oh boy, do i await persimmon season each year... never had one until i was an adult... mom wasn't an adventurous food person, so i never saw rarer or more unique fruits, especially those relatively higher in calories (why would she eat a 90 calories persimmon when she could have so much more watermelon for fewer calories... ugh). i tend to buy the fuyus and eat them skin and all... i find the skin adds great flavor, kind of like why peel an apple...


                              6 Replies
                              1. re: Emme

                                watch it with the skin - the persimmon, especially when eaten with skin and seeds, can cause a bezoar, which is a hard insoluble mass in your gut. It's really unlikely unless you've had gastric surgery, and can just as eaily be caused by some other more common foods, but I wouldn't like eat 10 persimmons skin and all in one sitting. Just something to put out there.

                                1. re: peanuttree

                                  thanks for the warning! ... i have not however attempted to eat more than one or two persimmons in a single go...

                                  1. re: Emme

                                    There should be no persimmon warning, unless you want to issue the same warning for citrus fruit. It is not the skin in the persimmon that causes the problem it is the tanin. Eating a persimmon seed or a green persimmon ... like someone will do that ... could cause a problem

                                    A Chowhound poster who is reliable in this type of info wrote this nice explanation of why the skin of some persimmons should not be eaten ...

                                    "If you're using Fuyus, I think it's up to personal taste. Other varieties of persimmons that are extremely tannic before they're ripe can cause undigestible masses in the stomache called bezoars. The tannins bond with proteins to make a super material that stomache acid can't touch. I imagine the skins of these other varieties still have a fair amount of those tannins even when ripe, so I'd peel them for sure."

                                    However as the discussion in the above link says, the skin of persimmons that need to be ripened is thick and inedible anyway. So nature has some built in warnings for us ... don't eat astringant green persimmons because your mouth will pucker, the seeds are too hard to eat and the skin in too tough.

                                    It is pretty much anyone who as gastric problems who are subject to this and in that case rely on a doctor because there are a number of other items that can't be eaten. A different kind of beozar, but some people can get them from milk. It is more a physical problem rather than the item itself.

                                    1. re: rworange

                                      My mother, God bless her, had us eating persimmons at an early age. Always, they were ripe...and always the skin was peeled. Still is.

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        thanks orange...the op of that statement [steveg from san francisco] was absolutely right.

                                        i, too, appreciate peanut's warning. but as emme said, i typically only eat one at a time, so i think i'll be ok ;)

                                        1. re: rworange

                                          diospyrobezoars: tannin precipitates into a sticky mass. phytobezoars [plant and fiber] are soft masses usually.

                                          But you can get a bezoar from olive stones, tomato skins, and gummi bears too! I think good mastication helps. I had to go research this because of my predilection of eating orange and tangerine skins.

                                  2. I just was just at shop-rite and bought some, but they were two dollars EACH! What's the deal? Did they make a mistake? They weren't sure if the each meant by weight or by fruit - when they ringer-upper asked two other people working there, they both said it was per fruit. I don't remember persimmons being that expensive.

                                    Maybe it's too early in the season? And I know some of you might point to the especially warm weather, but the whole thing about persimmons needing frost to ripen isn't true - they ripen over time, frosts or no frosts.

                                    13 Replies
                                    1. re: peanuttree

                                      I used to have a persimmon tree in my yard. They ripen much later in the year. If you drive around older neighborhoods before Christmas you can see the persimmon trees with no leaves and the fruit still hanging. I live in the southern San Francisco Bay Area.

                                      1. re: peanuttree

                                        nope, i just paid TWO BUCKS EACH for two fuyus at Whole Foods... they weren't any cheaper at Ralph's either!

                                        and p.s. 3 dollars for a puny dragon fruit? what are these supposed to taste like anyways?

                                        1. re: Emme

                                          ooh, I don't like dragonfruit. They don't even taste like fruit - they have a weird, sickly cucumber/vegetative like taste (not that cucumbers are bad - I love them - it's just hard to find a comparison flavor). As far as I'm concerned, they're only good as a garnish to add color to a fruit bowl, or split and flesh scooped out and used as a bowl

                                          1. re: peanuttree

                                            shoot, i meant to ask about passion fruit... also 3 bucks a pop!

                                            1. re: Emme

                                              now passionfruit is a different story. First of all, you should wait until the Summer, when they can get as low as $1.50 per fruit. Passionfruit is DELICIOUS. OMG! They have this amazing, strong, floral, fruity, perfumy aroma. They might be a bit too sour for some people, but you should still try it. I love them because they're one of the few fruits you can get in the stores in North America that really has a strong aroma/flavor.

                                              When purchasing, you want to get the fruit that is slightly wrinkled. With this fruit, wrinkly is NORMAL, not bad. As the fruit "ripens" (I think it's drying out really), it gets wrinkly and the aroma gets stronger - however I find that too wrinkly just gets old and bad.

                                              To eat, split the fruits and scoop out and eat the yellow pulp and seeds. Some people whine about the seeds, but I find they just add a crunchy element, they're not annoying to me.

                                              Apparently there is also a yellow passionfruit that is larger, but from what I understand these have an inferior flavor.

                                              Passionfruits are a tropical/near-tropical fruit - there aren't a lot of places you can grow them in mainland America, so they're expensive. However, if you really like them, there is a related passionflower species native to the American South that is attracting some interest for its fruit lately. The fruits are called "maypops" and the species is Passiflora incarnata. I plan on growing this eventually, being one who loves passionfruit, but not always willing to shell out an arm and a leg to get them.

                                              1. re: peanuttree

                                                mmmm, i had the most delicious, straight-off-the-vine fresh passionfruit in australia.

                                                as for the taste, i don't really think of it as sour...more like tart or astringent. i find the flavor to be somewhat reminiscent of guava, which i also happen to adore.

                                                there are actually many varieties of passionfruit, but the two primary ones we see here in the states are yellow and purple.

                                                emme - i've noticed you & i share a lot of the same preferences when it comes to restaurants and food...considering our similar palates, i'm guessing you'd probably like passionfruit.

                                                1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                  i will give it a shot... and im next up to try strawberry guava as well!

                                                  1. re: Emme

                                                    yum...another winner. had it in hawaii several years ago. please post if/when you find it - i'd love to pick some up!

                                          2. re: Emme

                                            I wouldn't buy a dragonfruit from a supermarket. They are usually not picked ripe and don't have much flavor. A good dragonfruit will have a sweet pleasant flavor. And the color is just so pretty. I love drinks out of dragonfruit depending on the nationality called chan or pitahaya.

                                            There are lots of links on the board for info about dragonfruit on the board.

                                            Speaking of links, here's more info about the persimmon from the Chow ingrediants link.

                                            A local tv show just had a recipe for guacamole with persimmons. It looked pretty but don't know how that would work taste-wise. Anyway, looking for the recipe I came across this link with the varieties of persimmons. I forgot all about chocolate persimmons. There's a a whole lot I haven't tried or seen

                                            Then that reminded me that soon dried massaged persimmons will be available. I really like these from top-quality vendors which cost $$$$ ... $$$$ ... due to the intense labor of massaging them. However, when done correctly there is a lovely white powdery sugar that forms on the outside of the persimmon.

                                            Anyway here's a link to that recipe for guacamole with persimmons

                                            Now excuse me ... I have to go buy some persimmons. For some reason I suddenly have a craving.

                                            1. re: rworange

                                              rworange -- Thanks! You have answered a question that I didn't even ask, but one that I have had for quite some time.

                                              Several times over the past many years I have purchased these "dried massaged persimmons" that you mention in your above dissertation (no sarcasm -- you know I say that with great respect!). I begin to see them about Thanksgiving/Xmas time in the Asian markets. They do vary greatly in quality. Some have been moist and gooey and full of flavor -- an offering from the gods; others have just barely passed for a shriveled-up fruit with a rather stale or almost rotten/fermented odor and taste. I don't know if the latter has just been on the shelf too long, or if they were never good from the start. Nevertheless, the good ones are delicious...and -- thanks to you! -- now I know that they are massaged.

                                              1. re: liu

                                                Tokyo Market in Berkeley has some good ones ... though it is a little early for them.

                                                Always in search of a good editor :--)

                                            2. re: Emme

                                              *grins*... I paid $5 for a "high quality" dragon fruit one time, figuring I just wanted to try it and have a new experience.

                                              It barely tasted like anything. After four or five bites, it went into the compost bin. No idea what the thrill is with these things apart from the fact that they're quite impressive looking.

                                              1. re: vorpal

                                                Yeah I'm pretty sure I tried Dragon Fruit in South East Asia, and found it pretty bland even over there. They are beautiful though.

                                          3. Thank you for this post, I have wondered for years what these taste like, and how to buy them,now I will try them, thanks toy,I'll report back after I do.

                                            1. The persimmon is, sadly, one of the few fruits that don't do much for me... I've bought them on multiple occasions and the taste is alright for one or two bites, but then I just lose interest. A few bites more and I feel a bit disgusted.

                                              1. I like the really ripe hachiya type best. Can't indulge too much - my favorite method of eating is to cut a cross at the bottom of a ripe one, stick it into an oven and bake for a bit, take it out and top with a scoop of vanilla ice cream...

                                                1. Perhaps I may be able to help a bit here. Pawpaws and our native persimmons overlap extensively throughout their ranges. Both are highly prized and both ripen late in the year. both have largely been forgotten by the commercial marktplace. Personally, that may be a good thing. These fruits are not unknown to people all over their ranges. They are however relatively unknownm to people who rely on supermarket chains for all of their foods. You can get native persimmon pulp...and in some cases actual fruits, at farm stands nd local growers in a good bit of its range...pawpaws as well. But, it does take real effort. In the last few weeks I've been tryingto remedy this with a sources page. It is slow going though...most of these same folks are not spending a lot of time online. I hope that little-by-little I'll be able to fill out more sources for those of you in other areas. Some (not many) folks ship as well. Keep in mind it is a lot of work to produce pulp, and trickier still, to get it into the hands of someone via mail.

                                                  Anyway, it is highly probable that these have been confused by a number of folks as being the same thing. With those who know these plants, I have never heard them mixed up...even by their common names. But, many times a writer or storyteller isn't careful with information, and well...you know...<grin>

                                                  Further, I have been both a pawpaw and a persimmon fancier for decades and have travelled extensively throughout its native range. I can honestly say I've never heard the use of "pawtad" nor a reference in historical documents, songs, poems, etc when the writer or speaker meant persimmon. I believe that reference to be a mixup on someone's part. There have been a number of native persimmon common name synonyms over time. If you look on my site, I have collected a good many name references to our native American, or common persimmons. Each name has been verified several times over. After "persimmons", the most common nickname is simply "simmons".

                                                  Now, for those of you who have only had asian persimmons, you have my condolences. Common persimmons are much more flavorful, and range from spicy notes to those of caramels depending on the tree and habitat. It is true that they are much smaller, and it takes a lot more effort to get them to pulp. However, in my opinion, it is not only worth it, but part of my family's holiday traditions as well. In fact, I know a good many folks all over this tree's range who would not think about holiday feasts without a steaming hot prsimmon pudding wafting sweet smells throughout the house.

                                                  For those of you who only have access to asian persimmons, Fuyu-types are best left for eating out of hand or cut and put into fruit salads and recipes where one needs chunks of persimmon. For baking similar to natives, you'll need the hatchiya-types which require bletting like our natives. One thing to consider is that they are much more mild in flavor. If I'm using asian persimmons, I typically add more pulp, and cut back on liquid somewhere in the recipe. It isn't really the same, but allows a bit more persimmon flavor into the recipe. By the way, the astringent types of persimmons (those referenced as needing bletting above) are like our natives in that they produce a lasting memory for folks if they do not spend the time learning how to detect ripeness. My own grandfather was the first to give me a persimmon...and he gave me a green one so that I might start learning...the hard way. I didn't really understand it at 6-7 years old...but I do now. Don't be discouraged. Anything this good is worth the effort.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: persimmonpudding

                                                    I had the pleasure of trying them while I was traveling through Israel, but now don't know enough about them to experiment. I don't even know how to pick them but have to ask the confused Publix workers.

                                                  2. I just bought some tiny persimmons that were very ripe.

                                                    A delicious breakfast, snack or dessert:
                                                    I cut them up into beautiful shiny, slippery, orange and black slices and ate them with strained, homemade yogurt.