It was one of those rare early winter days when the sun was reigning high in the Pacific Northwest sky. Most of the leaves on the trees were scattered, no longer hanging out on the branches. Bare limbs bopping in the sunny day got even better when dangling bright orange orbs were spotted on said branches. Oh, the brilliance of the find: Persimmons – short, stout, sweet and squishy in the best of ways.
Persimmons are a dainty enchanting fruit from China that has taken a trip around the world; now calling many moderate climes home, including quite a few Portland neighborhoods. Portland Nursery carries several varieties that are suited to the local area. They suggest planting in the late fall so the trees are well-established for spring growth. Hey, it’s only been officially winter for a week, so planting is still an option.
Smitten by the lingering flavors of honey, mango and apricot, persimmons are confections that are good for you. Fiber, vitamins C and B complex, minerals with names like potassium, manganese, copper and zinc, one would think they were precious jewels. In the nutrition world persimmons are a cache to be munched both raw and in baked goods or savory dishes.
There are two types readily available in the market:
- Fuyu are tomato-shaped; short, firm and crisp. Eat them in a salad or baked into coffee cake.
- Hachiya resemble a golden acorn. They need to be devoured when very soft. Try scooping out their jelly-like consistency with a spoon. Hachiya are best for cooking.
How to devour the succulent virtues of persimmons:
- Select ripe fruit or it will be bitter due to the high tannin levels in certain varieties, such as Hachiya. The Fuyu is less acidic, and consumable when crisp.
- Look for skin that is smooth, transparent and a good overall color.
- Wash well, slice off the leaves and peel if desired.
- Persimmons can be plunged into hot water like a tomato or peach to slip the skins.
After prepping, persimmons are ready to be sliced and diced into salads, combined with yogurt and granola for breakfast, tossed with lime, jalapeno and cilantro for a unique salsa, squashed and added to quick breads or stewed to create intriguing chutney.
Persimmon Nut Bread
Classic banana nut bread is re-interpreted; moist, dense and heavenly toasted and smeared with cream cheese.
- 2 ½ cups flour
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- ¾ cup milk
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 cup smashed persimmon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Lightly grease a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan.
- In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
- Combine oil, egg, milk and persimmon mash in a small bowl until well blended together.
- Add persimmon mixture and chopped nuts to the dry ingredients, gently mixing to form a thick, soft batter.
- Scoop into the prepared loaf pan and bake for approximately one hour, until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.