Persimmons are one of the culinary world’s astonishing gifts. It seems everyone is taken with their gorgeous color, but I’m always surprised at the number of people who don’t know quite what to do with them. I can think of endless yummy possibilities for this fruit of Asian origin.
Hachiya is larger & acorn shaped; Fuyu is smaller & squatty
First, there are several varieties of persimmons and they are very different. The two most common in California are the Hachiya and the Fuyu. Hachiya are the larger of the two, shaped like an acorn. Be mindful that this varietal is quite tannic and must be fully ripe (i.e. ooey gooey soft) before eating. Fuyu is by far my fave---in fact we have planted two Fuyu trees. Unlike Hachiya, Fuyu can be eaten when rock-hard and they are absolutely delicious.
Autumn salad is frequently on our menu
My favorite persimmon dish is one of the simplest---preparation takes maybe 15 minutes. I call it “autumn salad.” Other than the vinaigrette salad dressing (EVOO, balsamic, shallot & Dijon mustard), it has four ingredients: fuyu persimmon, blue cheese (I prefer Stilton but Roquefort is also terrific), lettuce (I especially like arugula) and roasted nuts (love pecans or walnuts). This is a perennial dish at our house during the fall and winter months.
Stephanie's persimmon cake is totally phenomenal
Fuyu persimmons do soften to the point that they’re no longer possible in a salad. No worries as I use them in desserts----everything from cakes to more adventurous versions of Trifle and Tiramisu. I was given the recipe below for a persimmon spice cake nearly 40 years ago by a dear friend (who had obtained it from an elderly woman). It’s one of my most treasured recipes, and a great way to use persimmons of any variety that have softened. The cake is also perfect for the upcoming holidaze.
3 cups pureed persimmons (either variety will work)
2 tspns baking soda
½ cup butter at room temp
1 2/3 cups sugar
2 tspsns lemon juice
2 tspsns vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn salt
1 tspn ground cloves
1 tspn ground cinnamon
½ tspn ground nutmeg
1 cup walnuts
½ cup raisins
Add baking soda to fruit and set aside (but use very soon as it will turn into a solid block). In a separate large bowl, beat butter and sugar with a mixer. Add flour and spices. Then, add persimmon mix and stir until just blended. Last, add in nuts and raisins.
Pour into greased and floured pan (can use a tube pan or any other cake pan). Bake at 350 for 55-60 minutes, pending type of pan utilized.
If you really want to be decadent, you can add icing (like that great recipe of cream cheese + powdered sugar + butter), but it really doesn’t require it. A dollop of whipped cream can be added, but most of the time I serve it plain and wait for the accolades to begin.