Friday, November 19, 2010

Taming the Devil Fruit

Using fruits and vegetables that are in season is the most cost efficient, most tasteful, and environmentally responsible way to create delicious masterpieces. So for the month of November, just say no to ethylene gassed tomatoes from Mexico and hello to a succulent head of locally grown cabbage. Put down the sour strawberries and hard peaches and reach for a cinnamony-sweet persimmon or tart, juicy pomegranate. I love the tastes of Fall, they have a certain sophistication about them, a more savory texture, and deep, rich flavor. Since a lot of people who I talk to have never heard of persimmons and have no idea what wonderful things they are used for, I will devote a blog to them. Here's to the persimmon!

My first experiment with a persimmon was quite unfortunate. I had always heard of people making persimmon cookies and bread, but wondered why I had never heard of anyone eating them raw. This was before I learned there are two types of persimmon that are commonly grown: a persimmon used mostly for baking and a persimmon that's okay to eat raw. So, thinking I may be on the brink of discovering something wonderful, I bit into a baking persimmon (the larger, apple shaped kind). Immediately I had realized I made a horrible decision and made that move a cat does as it rejects a pill. Yeah, pretty nasty. I can't remember the taste, I just remember my tongue and throat feeling like I just tried to eat cactus with spines in tact. Bad times.

I made persimmon cookies with the rest of the evil, round devil fruit, and those were pretty bad ass if I do say so myself :) The trick is to not use them until they are really mushy on the outside and jelly-like on the inside. The kind of persimmon used for baking, the Hachiya persimmon, has high levels of tannins that only break down when it is ripe. If not allowed to ripen, the tannins, which are a bitter polyphenolic compound produced by plants, will still be present and will cause your mouth to pucker from it's bitter dryness. This is a lovely defense mechanism certain plants have evolved to insure their seeds will be distributed at peak maturity. This is also the same substance responsible for sour grapes. Gotta love the way mother nature works.

I found out later there is a type of persimmon that has low levels of tannins and can be consumed when it's still pretty firm, these are Fuyu persimmons. They are more flat than the Hachiya persimmons and kind of shaped like little pumpkins. These, you can eat like apples, or you can bake with them, they are pretty versatile. I found some pretty interesting recipes on this site and plan on trying a few of these. One that I will be trying and will have to post a follow up is the dried persimmon. Apparently you can dry the devil fruit kind, it's actually a delicacy in Japan, but it takes four to six weeks. So maybe you guys out there can try it too and we can compare results next month.
UPDATE: Dried persimmons are so yummy! So easy too, take an unripe Hachiya persimmon (orange, but hard to the touch), peel the skin off with a sharp knife, leave the leafy cap (calyx) intact. Tie string around cap, and string up in a dry place until it dries completely. Cut it up and use on salads, or eat it as is.

For this blog I will be making some persimmon jam out of  Fuyu persimmons (the flat kind, not the evil kind) since my Hachiya persimmons aren't even close to being ripe yet. I found a really great community of excellent cooks and home preservers at so I am using a tested recipe for Persimmon Freezer Jam that I found on the website.
Fuyu Persimmon

So, I tried the recipe above, and instead of making freezer jam I decided to can it so I could store it for later in the year. In hindsight, I think that was a bad idea because when I brought the mixture to a boil so I could "hot pack" it into the jars a bunch of air bubbles formed in my jam mixture :( still tastes really good, so not a big loss! It's really an interesting jam, never tasted anything quite like it before. It will go great with some homemade biscuits slathered in butter...Mmm. I used a potato masher to break up the persimmon pieces which worked quite nicely, but I think next time I will wait until my persimmons are nice and ripe because they turn to a goopy, booger like consistency...which isn't so great to think about eating, but works great when making jam or cookies because you don't have to do any mashing.  You've got to try a persimmon if you never have before, you truly suck if you don't, and you are totally missing out. 'Tis the season for sophisticated fruit and an excuse to throw the dieting out the window (seriously, it's winter, baggy clothes easily conceal the muffin top until you start working out again). So, say a toast to your new found love for Fall fruit with a Pom-tini and go heavy on the pumpkin and persimmon desserts this holiday season.

My Persimmon Jam

Besides the Pom-tini linked above here are some other incredible Fall recipes with seasonal fruit, have fun!
The Masters of the Pomegranate-POM Wonderful
Persimmon recipes
Pumpkin recipes


  1. I have to say I tried one of our persimmons, and the feeling in my mouth was not good at all!!!! very useful post

  2. Now you got me craving some jelly.. screw my diet..;)