Read a great post on my friend Sanda's blog, Halcyon Days, (don't you love that name?) about the Persimmon as Art. She has wild Persimmons on her property. I am so jealous! Got me thinking about Persimmons, which I normally do this time of year.
When I was growing up we could only buy the one type of Persimmon - the Hachiya, which is shaped a little like a Bell Pepper. You don't eat them until they are ripe, not even to cook with. (High tannin, I believe - just puckers you up like nothing you have ever felt. Not a mistake you'll make twice.) If you compare the feel of the ripe fruit to that of a ripe avocado, the Persimmon should be just a little softer. At this point, you can puree the raw, peeled fruit and freeze to cook with later. Our family always made something called Persimmon Pudding for Winter holidays. (It is steamed and Martha Stewart has a good recipe.) If I was very lucky, there would be extra ones to peel and eat raw, like some giant orange strawberry. Not everyone likes the slightly slimy (or perhaps gelatinous is a better description) texture, but I do.
A few years ago (maybe 20?)the other type, the Fuyu Persimmon came on the American market. It is shaped like an apple and can be eaten like one while it is still crisp. They are also delicious, but I prefer a ripe Hachiya. I've cooked with the Fuyu, but needed to grate it - and the flavor wasn't as intense.
When I moved to Seattle, there were never Persimmons for sale, but after a while they started appearing in the stores. They were very expensive, maybe $4 each, but I really missed our Persimmon Pudding at Thanksgiving. So I would buy a few and wait for them to ripen. And wait and wait. Some never did, so weary from the long trip to Seattle from whatever warm climate they were grown in. Some succumbed to the ubiquitous fruit flies brought in from South America on the bananas. But then came the year I was in Southern California visiting my cousin Jill. And she suggested that I buy a case of Persimmons and an old suitcase from the Goodwill and take them back as luggage. Not many of you are old enough to remember it, but once upon a time, you could take two suitcases as baggage for free - yes! That's right, I spent $14 for a case of Persimmons, $1 for a suitcase, and finally got my Persimmon Pudding for Thanksgiving. And no one but me had seconds. Their loss, my gain. Maybe if I had made the Hard Sauce, from the recipe that Jill's mom, my aunt, found for me the following year, it might have been more popular. After all, mix Brandy with Confectioners Sugar, and you could get people to ask for seconds of Cardboard a la Hard Sauce. (Get why they call it "Hard"? Or would the reference be the "Sauce"?)
Hope I can find a few Persimmons at the grocery store to take pictures of today. Just in case anyone is in the dark as to this beautiful fruit.