The flavour of the week is persimmon. Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of ebony trees in the genus Diospyros., however not all species of ebony trees bear edible fruit. In color the ripe fruit of the cultivated strains range from light yellow-orange to dark red-orange depending on the species and variety. They similarly vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm in diameter, and in shape the varieties may be spherical, acorn, or pumpkin-shaped. The ripe fruit have a high glucose content. The protein content is low, but such as it is, it has a balanced protein profile. Like the tomato, persimmons are not popularly considered to be berries, but in terms of botanical morphology the fruit is in fact a berry.
Persimmon fruit have been put to various medicinal and chemical uses. The astringency of dried persimmons help to prevent diarrhea and stop the bleeding associated with hemorrhoids. The fruit also helps to prevent cancer thanks to its high content of beta-carotene, sibutol and betulinic acid. A new study in Japan seems to have established that persimmons actually slow the aging process due to the presence of proanthocyanidin, a compound that resides in the fruit’s skin.
There are two types of persimmons: astringent and non-astringent.
As novice persimmon eaters often belatedly discover, the astringent persimmon has two personalities. When ripe, it possesses a rich, sweet, spicy flavor. The unripened fruit, however, tastes so bitter that biting into it causes the mouth to pucker. However as the fruit ripens and softens, the tannins become inert and the astringency disappears. You can wash a Fuyu persimmon and eat it like an apple, either whole or cut into slices or wedges. The thicker-skinned Hachiya can be messy to bite into, and is easier to handle if halved lengthwise and eaten from the skin with a spoon. Persimmons are excellent blended into margaritas or in an autumnal version of a bellini.