As the weather cools in autumn, brilliant persimmons make their seasonal appearance, growing on deciduous trees that can reach up to 25 feet tall. Covered by a satiny-smooth skin, the fruits have a datelike sweetness and a hint of spice, and are delicious provided you know the variety you are buying and its ripening tendencies. The fruit falls into two categories: astringent and non-astringent, referring to the amount of tannins in the skin and flesh. Bite into an astringent persimmon like the Hachiya before it's fully ripe and your mouth will be filled with an unpleasant bitterness. When it's fully ripened, however, you can simply dip a spoon into the Hachiya’s creamy, jewel-toned flesh—a dessert that needs no other adornment—or add them to cakes and puddings. Non-astringent varieties like Fuyus are more forgiving, rewarding you with a mouthful of crispy fruit. They're great eaten as a snack or added to salads or stews.
HOW TO BUY
Persimmons are quite delicate, so they are usually shipped unripe. Bright orange Hachiyas will be firm with a touch of softness around the tip. If they are already squishy, they’ve probably been mishandled. Fuyus are firm with a yellowish orange tinge. Avoid any specimens with brown spots.
HOW TO STORE
Allow Hachiyas to ripen on the counter or in a paper bag; Fuyus should be stored in the fridge to maintain their crispness.
HOW TO PREPARE
The flesh of Hachiyas can be scooped directly out of the skin; Fuyus can be sliced unpeeled and added to salads as a substitute for tomatoes or other fruits.