Thursday, December 9, 2010
2 Recipe #211: Poached Persimmons
|Sugar and spice, and everything nice, finished off with a wicked little kick in the pants. :) Ka-POW!|
There are several kinds of persimmon trees, but only a few bear edible fruit. :) The two most common types commercially sold in the US are the fuyu and the hachiya. You can distinguish between the two different kinds by their shape, color, and taste: When ripe, the fuyu is a medium orange color and shaped a lot like a tomato (i.e., plump and squat) while the hachiya is a deeper shade of orange, elongated, and shaped like an acorn (except it's a lot larger!). The former has an astringent taste due to its high level of soluble tannins that will lessen as the fruit matures, while the latter is still astringent-tasting but is far less tart when ripe. The fuyu still contains tannins but has a lot less of them. Also, during the ripening process, the fuyu's tannins will disappear a lot faster than the hachiya's.
|Doesn't this photo just make you want to reach out and pluck |
this hachiya persimmon right off the tree? ;)
Also, persimmons can be ripened by either exposing them to light or placing them in a paper bag, both of which hasten ethylene production. (Ethylene is a chemical by-product that's released as fruit ripen.)
|Ripe hachiya persimmons.|
However, when persimmons have ripened, it's almost like you're eating an entirely different fruit. :) Like quince and the Nashi bear, the persimmon must first be allowed to blet, that is, to become incredibly overripe, before it's consumed. This bletting process is what makes the persimmon taste so incredibly flavorful.
|Unripe fuyu persimmons.|
|Unripe hachiya persimmons.|
In fact, the only reason I tried a persimmon again is that I didn't realize what a fuyu actually was until I'd already brought it back home from the international grocery store. ;) They didn't specifically label them as persimmons; the sign just simply declared that they were fuyus, and I'd clearly had no idea what they were when I'd picked them from the produce bin. I told you I was an adventurous eater. :)
I'll often buy stuff from the international market that I have absolutely no clue how to use. (I trust that I'll just figure it out later, when I get home!). Or, if it's a fruit or a vegetable I've never encountered before, I'll most certainly try it without any knowledge whatsoever. What can I say, I'm the Russian roulette queen of produce. :) So let's spin the wheel and see what we get....
|Fuyu, just another name for persimmon. ;)|
Likewise, a lot of people say they have monstrous initial experiences with persimmons, and after one of two of my own bad experiences, I can see why. A little education on this subject is immeasurably useful. :) Of course, I'm not really surprised. They just did what I did: They just assumed you could eat it as it was, after it appeared to soften just a bit, with no discernible consequences. ;) What, you mean I will rue the day I ever ate an unripe persimmon?! Psssshaw! Sometimes we have to learn the hard way. When it comes to a persimmon, a little patience goes a long way. :)
While the fuyu can be eaten as soon as they become slightly soft, I honestly prefer them when they become a little bit riper, verging on extremely soft and gooey. Many people like them when they are still firm, but to me, they still taste chalky and way too fibrous at this stage. They are commonly eaten raw. When ripe, fuyus have a mild, sweet and tart flavor. They have black seeds, which should be removed before consumption. Just pick them out as you encounter them.
|What fuyus look like on the inside.|
|A hachiya that's been cut in half.|
I've added both kinds into the below recipe to give it a balance between tart and sweet. And, if you've never tasted a persimmon before, it'll give you a chance to taste both kinds. :-D
1 c. bletted (i.e., overripe) hachiya persimmons, hulled, seeded, peeled, and quartered (about 2 persimmons)
1 c. bletted i.e., overripe) fuyu persimmons, hulled, seeded, peeled, and quartered (about 2 persimmons)
2 c. orange juice
3/4 c. Cointreau
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground aniseed
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground clove
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom
1/8 - 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper, according to individual heat preference
4 c. water, added as necessary (optional)
2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
Directions: In a large and very deep sauté pan, combine the persimmons, orange juice, Cointreau, vanilla extract, and all spices. Bring the liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally. Then turn down heat to medium, cover, and simmer until tender, which, depending on the state of your ripened persimmons (i.e., soft, firm, etc.) could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour. ;) If persimmons need to cook a bit longer, add water, one cup at a time as the liquid cooks down, to prolong their cooking while keeping them from burning on the bottom. Reduce liquid to about half of its original volume. When persimmons are soft, remove pan from heat and stir in lime juice, blending well. Divide up fruit wedges into equal portions, and transfer with a slotted spoon to individual porcelain ramekins. Pour remaining syrup (from the pan) over top of each serving. Serve warm or chilled over ice cream or pudding (like peach melba).
Yield: Serves 3-4.
|A bowl of hachiyas also make a pretty centerpiece.|