We have been knee-deep in persimmons these last couple weeks. Certainly, a delicious problem to have. Good friends recently gifted us with a bag full, straight off the tree at their family home in Santa Cruz. And the very next day, our CSA delivery included four more.
Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of persimmon growing up in New England. Odds are good that I had never even seen one up close and in person until arriving in California. So when we suddenly had an over-flowing bowl full, I saw it as an opportunity to learn a thing or two.
KITCHEN TIP #1: Persimmon fall into two buckets, astringent and non-astringent. Like the Fuyu persimmons that came in our CSA box, non-astringent varieties can be eaten much like an apple, offering that same kind of crunch. They have a sweet, almost spicy flavor and tend to be much more “subtle” than their astringent counterparts. Our Santa Cruz persimmons were Hachiya – the most well known of the astringent varieties. Unlike the Fuyu, the Hachiya (and other astringent varieties) are best left alone until they are SO ripe that their pulp has become almost jelly-like. Any sooner and they are too sour to eat.
KITCHEN TIP #2: Whether they are astringent or non-astringent, persimmon will continue to ripen after they have been picked from the tree. They are best stored on your counter, stem-side down. And if you end up with more than you can eat at one time, they freeze well. Keep a stash in your freezer for future smoothies.
KITCHEN TIP #3: And now, what to do with all of these persimmon:
Persimmon Ginger Smoothie
Combine two VERY ripe persimmons (if you are using Hachiya, peel them first), 1 cup coconut water, 1 cup plain yogurt and 1 teaspoon grated ginger in your blender and blend until smooth. You may want to add a bit of honey depending on your preference for sweet. I suggest starting without and adding later, depending on how the smoothie tastes. Persimmons can be a pretty serious sugar bomb. You may not need the honey after all.
Persimmon Puree with Yogurt and Toasted Nuts
Persimmon puree has long been a natural sweetner for baked goods. I tend to use it as-is. Once your persimmons are “jelly ripe”, cut them in half and scoop out the pulp with a spoon. You can mash it with the back of a fork if you dont mind a chunkier consistency. Put it in the blender if you prefer smooth. It makes for a wonderful breakfast with toasted nuts over Greek yogurt.
Simple Persimmon Ice Cream
My friend Sara, provider of the Santa Cruz persimmons, suggested that we try making ice cream. And we did. It couldn’t be easier and it tastes wonderful. Inspired by a recipe on PBS (also provided by Sara), we froze two Hachiya persimmons. Once they were solid, we cut them into eighths, removing any seeds or stems along the way. The persimmon chucks went into the food processor with 2 tablespoons of honey. We gradually added ½ cup of unsweetened coconut milk, 1 frozen, peeled banana and ¼ teaspoon vanilla. The original recipe calls for a little lemon juice. We didn’t have any lemons on hand so had to go without. But I will definitely try adding a tablespoon or two next time.