If you ask us, the persimmon is winter's most underrated fruit! If you don't have tropical fruit on your regular grocery list this festive season, you definitely should. Persimmons are the perfect sweet and tangy taste to accompany the spicy, cinnamon-enhanced flavours of the holidays.
Where are persimmons grown?
The persimmon originates in China, and varieties range in sweetness level and shape, but most have a bright orange-red colour, honey-like flavour, and a juicy, jellylike flesh with a silky texture.
Though deriving from Asia, the persimmon is now grown in a number of locations, including Spain, Israel, the United States, and even Canada. Whether you're biting into a fresh persimmon, preserving them in a jam, or trying them as a dried fruit, this guide provides you with all the must-have info to get your persimm*on* this season.
Read on to get the lowdown on when to pick up persimmons, how to spot the ripest ones, what types to seek out, and how to eat them.
When are persimmons in season?
Generally, persimmons are a fall and winter fruit that's in season from October to January. Different variations will ripen at different times. Two of the most common, the Fuyu and the Hachiya, ripen from October to December and from November to December, respectively, whereas the popular Spanish persimmon (also called the kaki fruit) lasts from mid-October until January.
Most popular types of persimmons
There are two major categories of persimmons: astringent and non-astringent. Astringent persimmons are high in tannins. Think about how it feels to taste over-steeped black tea, where the astringency and high tannin content make your mouth dry and pucker up. When fully ripe, an astringent persimmon is mouth-watering, tender, and delightful. Non-astringent persimmons are ready to eat right away, even if on the firmer side.
Within each of these main categories falls a number of different persimmon varieties. Here’s a breakdown of the most common types you may find at the grocery store.
This is an astringent persimmon from China, and it's the most common variety of astringent persimmon. It's paler in colour and heart- or acorn-shaped. When ripe, the fruit is soft and jellylike and will melt in your mouth!
When is the Hachiya persimmon in season?
November to December
Best used for: The custard-like flesh makes the Hachiya persimmon ideal for use in baked goods such as muffins, breads and puddings. You can also choose to eat it fresh; just remove the stem, cut open, and use a spoon to scoop out the fruit inside.
The Fuyu persimmon hails from Japan and is non-astringent. It's shorter and squat, shaped more like a tomato. Because they're non-astringent, when they're firm and a vibrant orange shade, they can be eaten like an apple. You can eat the skin as well, though some may find it a little too tough or fibrous.
When is the Fuyu persimmon in season?
October to December
Best used for: Fuyu persimmons can be used in salads or cereal, and they freeze well to add to smoothies. You can bake with them, too, as you would apples.
The American persimmon is also called the common or eastern persimmon. It's native from Florida to Connecticut, west to Iowa and south to Texas. It's an astringent variety, so it should be eaten when it's soft and deeper in colour. These persimmons tend to be smaller than Asian varieties, but they're usually quite sweet and complex in flavour.
When is the American persimmon in season?
Mid-September to December
Best used for: You can preserve American persimmons by creating a lovely flavourful jam. Plus, you can reduce food waste by infusing vinegar with the skins and seeds of this variety; an infused vinegar can then be used for a tangy salad dressing.
In the 1970s, a method for removing tannins from astringent persimmons was developed so they could be enjoyed while still firm. The Sharon persimmon was the first to be marketed using this process; this persimmon comes from Israel and is named for the Sharon plain where many are grown.
When is the Sharon persimmon in season?
Fall and winter months (as early as October, as late as March)
Best used for: Sharon fruit can be eaten similarly to a Fuyu persimmon. The fruit has a high sugar content, which means it lends itself to being frozen, making it a great option for a smoothie or to keep for future baking projects.
Rojo Brillante persimmon
The Rojo Brillante persimmon is a deep-orange tomato-shaped fruit grown primarily in Spain. It is usually eaten when quite soft and jellylike, but like the Sharon fruit, it's astringent yet can be eaten while firm. It is usually eaten when it is quite soft and jelly-like and the flesh is yellow-orange in colour.
When is the Rojo Brillante persimmon in season?
Mid-October until January
Best used for: Eat this tasty fruit like an apple with the skin on, or peel it and slice off the top. The juicy seedless flesh is ideal for children, and the fruit can be eaten whole or cut into wedges.
What's the difference between kaki fruit and a persimmon?
You may come across the term "kaki fruit" being used to describe what looks like a persimmon. "Persimmon" is just the more commonly used name for the fruit. In fact, the word "kaki" refers to the tropical fruit, whereas the Persimon® Kaki is a trademark registered by the PDO Kaki Ribera del Xúquer, the largest producing area of this fruit in Spain, located in the north of Valencia. Both the Spanish kaki fruit and the persimmon are of the Rojo Brillante variety. This holiday, be sure to try a Spanish kaki fruit, available in our Produce Dept.
Other persimmon varieties
With so many different varieties of persimmon to discover and taste, here are a few other names you might come across:
- Tsurunoko ("chocolate" persimmon)
- Maru ("cinnamon" persimmon)
- Hyakume ("brown sugar" persimmon)
- Gosho ("giant Fuyu" persimmon)
- Tamopan ("mango" persimmon)
How to tell if persimmons are ripe
If a persimmon is astringent, you'll want to check on the softness of the fruit to see how ripe it is. A ripe persimmon that's ready to eat will give a little when gently pressed and the skin may be a little wrinkled. The colour may darken slightly, too, to a deeper orange-red. If the astringent persimmon needs a little extra time to hit its sweet spot, leave it to ripen at room temperature in a cool, dry area until soft.
A non-astringent persimmon is ready to eat when its colour is fully developed, but for best flavour, allow it to soften a little after you purchase them.
How to store persimmons
Generally, persimmons should be stored at room temperature until they're ripe. Once they ripen, persimmons can be placed in the fridge for up to a few weeks. If stored in a cool, dry, dark pantry, most persimmons should have a fairly long shelf life. Many persimmon varieties can also be frozen for future use; persimmons with a higher sugar content do better when frozen. Ripe persimmons can be preserved by turning them into jams or being canned.