Persimmons origins go back to ancient China. Fate intervened in the 1880's when a United States Commander brought back a native Japanese persimmon variety to Washington, D.C. Now, persimmons are grown in California where hundreds of different varieties flourish. This brightly colored, glossy orange red skinned fruit is an excellent source of vitamin A, a good source of vitamin C, and rich in fiber.
Although there are countless different varieties of persimmons, only two are commercially available. There are distinguishable by their shape.
Hachiya: This type of persimmon makes up approximately 90 percent of the available fruit. It is identifiable by its acorn like shape. This persimmon is tart until it becomes soft ripe.
Fuyu: This persimmon is gaining popularity here as it is in Japan. Similar in color, but looking like a squashed tomato, this variety is smaller, sweeter, and is edible while still firm.
Availability, Selection, Storage, Preparation
Persimmons are widely available September through December, with a peak during November.
Choose persimmons with deep red undertones. Look for persimmons that are round, plump, and have glossy and smooth skin. Avoid fruits with blemishes, bruises or cracked skin and missing the green leaves at the top. Select ripe persimmons only if you plan to eat them immediately. Otherwise, buy firmer fruits and allow them to ripen.
Ripen persimmons at room temperature in a paper bag with an apple or banana. Store them in the refrigerator when ripe. Be sure to eat the fruit as soon as possible because overripe persimmons quickly turn to a mushy texture.
Ripe Fuyu persimmons, which look kind of like flattened tomatoes, will be crisp, while the acorn-shaped Hachiyas will be very soft and juicy.
Unripe Hachiya persimmons taste very bitter and will suck all the moisture from your mouth — not very pleasant. The tartness will go away as the fruit ripens.