5 ways to eat a Persimmon
Growing up in Sydney
When I was a kid, I lived in a part of Sydney where we had big back yards and a kaleidoscope of cultures that my Father embraced. He was friends with all of our neighbours, and we took that for granted and thought it was just how everyone’s neighbourhood was. The Maltese two doors up made us cookies and Pastizzi, the Italians across the road gave us Panettone’s and the Polish next door sent us eggs from their backyard chickens. I went to lengthy church celebrations with my Russian Orthodox friend from across the road because after church her Mother gave us big home made jam doughnuts and I can tell you, we never had those at my house no matter what I was willing to sit through.
Our contribution to the neighbourhood was something that I would never understand. There was a corner of our huge yard that was a no go area for parts of the year because someone had decided to plant a persimmon tree. They are very hardy and will grow almost anywhere at all from cold to hot temperatures and this poor one was shoved down the dark side of our house beside the fence. The tree was abundant and spewed it’s soft ripe fruit onto the ground causing a slippery insect infested corridor that became off limits for hide and seek.
This was our contribution to the neighbourhood. Persimmons.
They are known in many countries world wide and are believed to be native to China and perhaps Japan, Korea and Nepal but have been found in Europe, the Americas and beyond. When that tree started fruiting the neighbours would file in with a bucket each and collect what I considered to be the most disgusting fruit I could imagine. I just didn’t know till recently that in fact there are a few types of Persimmon and there are some I really really like.
There are different types of Persimmon- who new?
There is a big explanation in the Persimmon world for the different types of fruit known as Astringent and Non Astringent but I really think what you need to know is the shape and texture and decide which one you like. There are the flat rounded ones that look a bit like tomatoes. These are my favourites. They are crunchy and sweet and account for 95 % of the crop now grown in Australia and New Zealand. They eventually become softer but they are best eaten when crunchy skin and all. The other rounder more heart shaped ones can only be eaten when soft and jelly like inside and these are the ones that I knew as a kid. I still don’t like them but there are plenty who do. I urge you to try the crunchy squat ones they are very very good.
I recently met Brett Guthrey, President of Persimmons Australia and a Persimmon grower who’s family started growing them in the Sydney Basin in the 60’s. Brett loves Persimmons, I mean he literally shines when he talks about them. He went on to plant 1/2 an acre in the 80’s experimenting with the process and sold them to Greeks, Italians and Asians at Flemington markets in Sydney. As the market grew, so did the amount he planted. He has travelled the world learning and comparing and finding more effective ways to grow and market his fruit and this year they are enjoying one of the best seasons ever.
This is a great cold season fruit found from February to June just in time to bring some interest to fruit shelves that contain little but apples and citrus. Queensland is the major producing state (50 %) but they are also grown and harvested in coastal New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and South west Western Australia.
- The wood of the Persimmon tree is extra hard. It was once the “wood” that was used for golf clubs before other durable material was found. It is still used by some bow craftsmen, especially in the making of traditional longbows. Persimmon wood is used in making a small number of wooden flutes and percussion mallets and sticks also sometimes eating utensils like wooden spoons. Japanese and Korean craftsmen use it in wood panelling for furniture
- It can take a persimmon tree up to 7 years before it produces fruit.
- Persimmon trees can reach 70 feet tall.
- There are about 2,000 varieties of persimmons. There are only 2 types of commercially available persimmons: hachiya and fuyu.
- Persimmons are full of tannin, and in Japan this is used to brew sake and also preserve wood. The small, non-edible fruit from wild persimmon trees in Japan are crushed and mixed with water. This solution is painted on paper to repel insects. This solution is also thought to give cloth moisture-repellent properties.
- Cool hmmm?
I have found a variety of ways to use them, none of which include instruments or wood! I was supplied with a tray of them from Persimmons Australia and I predominantly just ate them as they are plain and simple and with other fruit for breakfast. The beauty of these is that they can be sliced or cut and they don’t go brown or spoil. Cut it up….eat it later.
5 ways to eat a Persimmon…………..
- This has been my breakfast for the last week or so. Eat Persimmons sliced.
2. Try Persimmons with Chocolate. Mmmm….sold.
- 225 gm plain flour (1½ cups)
- 80 gm brown sugar
- 125 gm butter melted
- 4 eggs
- 300 gm dark chocolate
- 200 gm butter
- 125 gm sugar
- 1 sliced persimmons
- ¼ cup apricot jam plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
- x 9" or 23 x 23 cm square pan or a 10" or 23-25 cm round cake pan, greased and lined with baking paper. Preheat oven to 160 C 180 C / 350 F
- Put the flour and brown sugar into a food processor and whizz to combine. Add the melted butter and process till just combined. Tip in to the tin and push over the bottom. Chill for 5 minutes before baking till golden ( Approximately 15 minutes.
- Turn the oven down to 150 C
- Melt the butter and chocolate together and stand aside.
- Use a mixer or hand mixer to beat the 4 eggs till light and white and fluffy. Once they are ready fold the eggs through the butter chocolate mix by hand.
- Pour over the baked base and return to the oven for 15- 20 minutes. The chocolate should be set on top but still soft and giving to touch. If it is very wobbly bake at 5 minute intervals for another 5-10 minutes.
- Cool and chill. remove from the fridge ½ hour before you eat it. Or eat it straight from the oven.
- Before eating paint gently with apricot jam mixed with 1-2 tablespoons of hot water. Slice the persimmon and decorate the top.
Make sure you fold the butter and chocolate through just like making a mousse.
PROMISE. you will love this
3. Thai Style Persimmon salad with Chicken. Yes please.
- 500 gm Chicken Breasts
- 20 ml fish sauce
- 1 teaspoon very finely grated ginger ( optional)
- 80 ml oil
- 1 sliced persimmon
- 200 gm small cherry tomatoes roughly chopped ( juice reserved)
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 60 gm light palm sugar crushed (1/3 cup)
- 40 ml boiling water (2 Tablespoons)
- 2 x cleaned coriander roots and some stems ( the best flavour) choppe
- 1 small red chilli, chopped
- 60 ml lemon or lime juice (¼ cup)
- 2 teaspoons fish sauce
- ½ a small Spanish onion ( or to taste)- shredded very fine
- 1 ½ cups sliced Lebanese Cucumber or 1 large one shredded
- 30 g crushed dry roasted peanut (¼ cup)
- Put the fish sauce, oil and ginger in a bowl and combine. Add the chicken breasts and turn over in the mixture. Wash hands and let sit.
- Put the crushed palm sugar and boiling water in a bowl and set aside to cool ( if it doesn't melt I like to give it 30 seconds in the microwave)
- Put the coriander, chilli, lemon juice, sugar and water, fish sauce, garlic in the food processor (or pestle and mortar) and process till fine. Pour into a medium sized bowl. Add the chopped tomatoes, Spanish onion and cucumber to the bowl.
- Then add the very finely sliced persimmon. I cut into quarters and then slice
- Toss well.
- Heat a fry pan and add the chicken when it is hot. Turn to medium and cook the chicken until just cooked through.
- Slice and serve with the Som Tum Persimmon salad
- Sprinkle with peanuts and mix in extra coriander leaves and stems.
- Serve this with steamed rice
4. Persimmons make a great addition to a salad
- 200 gm crumbly blue cheese. I used Stilton
- 4 thick slices of sour dough bread cut into cubes
- 60 ml olive oil (1/4 cup)
- 1 persimmon chopped
- 100 gm walnuts
- Baby basil, sorrel or baby rocket leaves
- salt and pepper
- 2 Tablespoons of sweet balsamic
- Oven temperature 180 C or 350 F
- Cut and toss the bread cubes in some olive oil and salt and pepper and bake till golden.
- Cool. Then crumble the blue cheese.
- Toss all of the ingredients together just before eating. Dress with a little olive oil and balsamic
5. Persimmons also make the very best fruit to eat with all kinds of cheeses.
The picture below shows the different types of Persimmon, astringent and non- astringent and also delicious dried Persimmons with a cheese selection.
They make a great fruit in cakes, biscuits and muffins too. Maybe next time I will share my Chocolate Persimmon cake recipe with you. It didn’t make it to be photographed so I am afraid it was out of this post.
You can find more recipes at Persimmons Australia.