Here's How to Prep and Cook Those Fall Persimmon Fruits Popping Up in Stores

When the weather starts to turn chilly, look for persimmons to start showing up at your local grocery store. Follow these tips for choosing, storing, and eating fresh persimmons.

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When the leaves begin to turn red or yellow and you start craving fall and winter treats like apple cider and pumpkin bread, it's also officially persimmon season. While persimmons might not have the same following as other autumn and winter produce, they're gaining in popularity and deserve to take center stage in some of your cooler-weather cooking. These fruits have a sweetness that adds amazing flavor to baked desserts—and some types of persimmons can be eaten raw. If you haven't bought or eaten them before, don't worry; this guide has all the info you need to get started cooking persimmon fruit.

persimmons in a bowl
SeungOk B/Unsplash

What Is a Persimmon?

Even though some varieties of persimmons look just like small tomatoes, they're actually a type of berry. They grow on fruit trees and, depending on the variety, can range in color from light orange to dark reddish-orange. Persimmons are in season from mid-fall to early winter, usually appearing in grocery stores in October and sticking around until at least December or January.

Popular Types of Persimmons

Though there are more than 100 persimmon varieties, you'll usually see two types of persimmons in stores: hachiya and fuyu. Hachiya persimmons look like large, long acorns with yellow-orange to red-orange skin. These persimmons are an astringent variety, which means they aren't edible while the fruit is still firm and need to ripen completely before eating. It'll be obvious when hachiya persimmons are ripe. They'll feel very soft (almost squishy), the skin will start to wrinkle, and they'll have an almost-slimy texture. Mostly used in baked recipes, ripe hachiya persimmons have a very sweet flavor, almost like honey.

Unlike hachiyas, fuyus are non-astringent, which means their skins are edible, and the fruits can be eaten when they're hard or soft. Fuyu persimmons look the most like tomatoes, with a rounder shape, flat bottoms, and orange skin and flesh. When ripe, fuyu persimmons taste a little like pears and are usually sliced and served raw, though they can also be roasted or baked into desserts.

How to Choose Persimmons

Both persimmon varieties are common in grocery stores when they're in season, and you should always look for fruits that have shiny, smooth skin without any blemishes or bruises. It's normal for ripe hachiya persimmons to have a few black streaks or spots on their skins. Particularly with hachiyas, buy only ripe persimmons that feel soft if you're planning to use them within a couple of days. If you pick up hard, unripe persimmons of either variety at the store, they will continue to ripen if you store them properly.

How to Store Persimmons

Unripe hachiya and fuyu persimmons should both be stored at room temperature. If you want them to ripen a little quicker, you can try placing the fruits in a paper bag with a banana or apple and storing them on the counter. Bananas and apples both produce ethylene gas, which can speed up the ripening process. If you buy persimmons that are already ripe, or close to ripe, store them in the fruit drawer in your fridge to prevent over-ripening. Both varieties will keep in the fridge for at least a week.

Escarole, Radicchio, and Fuyu Persimmon Salad
Blaine Moats

How to Eat a Persimmon

The best way to prep and cut a persimmon depends on which variety you bought. For hachiya persimmons, use a sharp knife to cut off the leaves and stem, then slice downward through the center of the fruit. Use a spoon to scoop out the soft, inner flesh of the fruit. Discard the skins; hachiya peels can be slightly bitter. When ripe, hachiya persimmons should be just on the verge of mushy, making it easy to add the fruit to cookies, jams, cakes, and other desserts.

To cut a fuyu persimmon, peel the skin off the fruit if desired (fuyu skins are edible and less bitter than hachiya skins). Trim the leaves off the top of the fruit and remove the stem, then slice the persimmon in half. Continue slicing the fruit into wedges, removing the black seeds from the center as you see them. Eat the fruit slices raw like an apple, add to a salad or cheese plate, or use in baked desserts.

You can also freeze persimmons to enjoy later; the best way to preserve them is to puree the inner fruit, then freeze. When ripe, hachiya persimmons might be soft enough to peel and freeze as-is. For fuyu persimmons, peel and puree the inner fruit, then pour into a freezer-safe container ($3, Target), leaving a ½-inch headspace. Freeze both varieties for up to three months.

Persimmon Benefits

Persimmons are not only delicious but also are good for you. These small fruits have an impressive amount of nutrients, including vitamin C, potassium, fiber, manganese, and a large portion of your daily recommended intake of vitamin A. Persimmons are also a good source of antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases. To get the most nutrition out of persimmons, eat fuyus raw or without any added sugar. Still, no matter how you choose to enjoy them, take advantage of persimmon season while it lasts and give both varieties a try with any of our persimmon recipes.

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