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Eat This Now: Persimmons

This amber-orange fruit can be your new hallmark flavor of the season

By Marie Tutko

This is not a tomato.

It’s a persimmon, a fruit that marks the arrival of cooler temps and autumn colors. They’re grown around the world but ripen in the fall, and right now is peak season to find them at farmers’ markets and grocery stores throughout San Diego.

With shiny, slightly crunchy outer skin and soft, honey-sweet flesh, persimmons are surprisingly versatile. They can be enjoyed raw, cooked, or in pastries. Looking to squash your pumpkin-spice addiction? This amber-orange crop can be your new hallmark flavor of the season.

Persimmon 101

The fruit is cultivated in Japan, South Korea, and parts of China, and the varieties that grow here, fuyu (pictured) and hachiya, are the ones you’ll find most often in stores. Fuyus are squat and round like a tomato; hachiyas look more like a teardrop. There’s also an American persimmon that grows wild throughout the East Coast and the South—the word “persimmon” originates in Algonquian, an indigenous language of Virginia.

Where to Store Them

Keep them in the crisper drawer in the fridge, and they’ll stay fresh for a couple of weeks. To ripen persimmons, place them in a paper bag and leave them on the counter for a couple days. Still not ripe? Add a banana to the bag—the natural ethylene gas it emits will help ripen other fruit stored with it.

How to Buy Them

You don’t want to buy, or bite into, an unripe hachiya persimmon: they’re extremely bitter. Fuyus are okay to buy and eat practically any time, but taste the best when they’re fully ripe and get that plumlike consistency. A ripe persimmon will be soft, but still have some firmness, when you squeeze it. If it’s too squishy, it’s overripe and needs to be eaten right away.

How to Eat Them

Both persimmon varieties can be eaten raw, either with the skin on or peeled. When fuyus are a few days shy of their prime, they’re perfect for sautéeing and adding to savory dishes, or drizzled with honey and baked in the oven for a quick dessert.

Eat This Now: Persimmons

Eat This Now: Persimmons

Eat This Now: Persimmons

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