Saturday, January 28, 2012

Further Adventures in Produce: Persimmons

Yesterday, I made my usual Friday afternoon trip to the grocery store knowing it was time for another produce adventure.  I have to admit, I get a little excited when I know it’s time to seek out something new to try–it’s a little like going on a scavenger hunt, but with very vague instructions.  Find a fruit or vegetable you’ve never eaten before.  I’m always surprised by how many things fit that description.

This week, though, it was easy to make a selection.  When I headed for the bananas–always the first place I go when I walk into the grocery store–I noticed beside them a small bin of something that looked like small, very bright orange tomatoes.  Orange is my favorite color, which you might have guessed just by looking at this blog, so I was delighted to discover that these were not tomatoes, but persimmons.  And, conveniently enough, the persimmon was a fruit I hadn’t ever eaten before.  Mission accomplished!

Persimmons actually have a lot in common with tomatoes–they’re both “true berries,” meaning that they don’t have a stone or pit at their center and they do have edible skin.  When it comes to taste, though, the two bear no resemblance to each other.  A little research prepared me for a fruit with a soft texture and sweet taste, which surprised me; I’d thought the persimmon would be tart.  I’m not sure why I thought this, except perhaps because the orange color of the fruit made me think of oranges.

The first thing I noticed was that the texture of the persimmon was very similar to a nectarine or plum.  The Hubs said its flavor reminded him of a ripe apricot; The Boy said it tasted like a cross between an apple and a kiwi; The Girl thought it tasted like very sweet cantaloupe; I thought it tasted more like honey than fruit.  All of which is to say that the persimmon is very, very sweet, and beyond that it’s hard to describe the flavor.  (Then again, tell me:  what does a banana taste like?  If you said “A banana,” then you understand the difficulty of describing the taste of a persimmon.  It’s unlike anything else I’ve tasted.)

I’d purchased three persimmons, and we ate the first two in slices with the skin intact; the third one, I peeled and chopped into smaller pieces and tossed into a salad of organic greens and balsamic vinaigrette.  The soft, sweet persimmon was a really lovely contrast to the crisp greens and tart vinaigrette.  (Since a fruit or vegetable’s skin is where the fiber lives, I almost always try to eat it.  In this case, though, I really preferred the persimmon without.  It isn’t particularly tough or difficult to chew, but the super-sweet flavor of the fruit is a better match with the pulpy insides than the sturdy outer skin.)

The verdict:  I will definitely buy persimmons again.  At 97 cents each, they weren’t a big indulgence–but they’re in season throughout the fall, which means the ones I purchased were probably the last of this year’s crop.  I’ll watch for them to show up again in September and, in the meantime, learn more about how I might put them to use.

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One Response to “Further Adventures in Produce: Persimmons”

  1. 1

    Chronic Mom Says.... — January 31, 2012 @ 10:35 pm

    Waaaaaay in the back of your mind is the faint memory of a Warner Brothers cartoon in which Daffy Duck says (with lot-th of th-pitting), “Thank-th for the thour perthimmonths, cous-thin.”

    Here’s a link to a bit of the dialogue from Duck Amuck (1953).
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0045708/quotes

    And that might be why you thought persimmons were tart.

    I did, until you blazed this trail for me. Thank-th!

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