Pop of Persimmon
Get to Know the Other Orange Fruit of Fall
Autumn, especially late autumn, calls for a celebration of the bright orange fruit that starts with the letter "P."
Don’t worry, we don’t mean pumpkin—we mean persimmon. It’s the perfect fruit to incorporate into your dishes this season for a pop of color and fall flavor.
What you should know before you use them
Technically a berry, persimmons may easily be mistaken for an orange plum, thanks to its shape. There are several varieties of persimmons, but the most commonly available types in the United States are the hachiya, an acorn-shaped persimmon, and the fuyo, a round, flat-bottomed variety resembling a tomato. They’re tart, but sweet with a slight earthiness, making them easy to use in fall dishes.
Much like peaches in the summer, persimmons are endlessly versatile. Simmer them in a sauce pan with sugar and water to create a persimmon syrup that can then be used in autumnal cocktails. Its balanced flavor plays nicely with most spirits, but goes especially well with an herbaceous gin.
Erik Niel, owner and executive chef of Easy Bistro and Main Street Meats in Chattanooga, Tenn., says of the fruit, “To me, persimmons are the harbinger of winter. After the bounty of fall, when the first real crackly, cold morning hits, the persimmons are ready. Sweet, spicy, tannic and oddly refreshing. They are a joy to play with culinarily because they have such an interesting flavor and texture.”
The chef/owner of GW Fins in New Orleans, Tenney Flynn likes persimmons even further into the winter and says, “The best time to eat a persimmon is when it is perfectly ripe and it's directly after a frost, then it's got a custard texture and a perfume-like scent.”
Neat ways persimmon adds a bit of pizzazz to dishes
- Chop it up and use it to add fruitiness and a burst of color to fall salads. It goes excellently with beets, arugula and goat cheese.
- In Atlanta, Executive Chef Yoshi Kinjo of Nakato Japanese Restaurant says, “We use persimmon in a great salad with tofu and sashimi dressing here at Nakato because not only does it have a wonderful sweetness and crunchiness, but unlike apples, they don't turn brown after they are cut.”
- It also makes a lovely garnish for a burrata appetizer, just simply sliced and artfully arranged around the cheese with pomegranate seeds, another fall favorite.
- Persimmons may also be cooked down into a compote to accompany a pork loin.
- And at their simplest, they can be sliced thinly and arranged with prosciutto for a simple appetizer.