When the tomato shaped persimmon is firm, usually the outer peel has a bright orange color or sometimes still greenish color while its flesh contains numerous super tiny, dense, brown spots which make the color of the persimmon flesh brownish. The denser the brown spots on the flesh, the sweeter the fruit. The fruit also may have from 4-8 brown seeds, although in some varieties, the seeds maybe non-existent or so small and fresh that they are unnoticeable. I think it depends on the variety of the fruit. This type can be consumed while firm or after softened.
The heart shaped ones can look ripened on the outside with a bright orange color, but still astringent inside. In order to lose its astringency, it has to become extremely soft. Similar to unripe dates, if you keep the unripe persimmons at room temperature or under the sun, they will ripen off the tree. In my opinion, the tomato shaped persimmons with the brown spot flesh are the best ones.
Persimmon branches and persimmon fruits also can make beautiful centerpieces at your home. I personally would never pay money for the branches with the fruit for my vase, but if I had a tree, I certainly use them to make my home beautiful.
In the area I grew up in Southern Turkey, persimmon trees grow easily. My father has many trees in his garden (again, I never had the chance to taste them). Persimmons were abundant while I was growing up and enjoyed them very much. I can eat many persimmons and never get sick of them. They are harvested between October and December in the Mediterranean region.
Persimmons also grow in Texas; in fact we went persimmon picking last year with some friends at a persimmon farm. My initial plan was to write about it last year, but since we found the owner of the farm really grouchy and rude to his customers (other customers too) I changed my mind, so I created this post instead.
Similar to figs and pomegranates, they are very expensive in the United States. However, since persimmons are very popular with Asians (and persimmons probably originated in Asia), Asian markets sell them at a much cheaper price. Instead of paying from $2.50 to $2.99 per persimmon at regular markets, at Asian stores you can find them at $1.50 to $1.95 per pound! Even here in Calgary, I went to Chinatown one day during lunch hour to search for persimmons. I found them at a very reasonable price.
Personally, I have never attempted to cook or bake with persimmons. Occasionally, I plan for cooking with them, but we end up eating the fruit raw as they are which I really enjoy. Probably the nutrients in the fruit are maximized when the fruit is raw. They are rich in antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron and may contain many other health benefits.
If you are not familiar with this fruit and never had it, do not miss any opportunity to taste it. Enjoy.
Note: The persimmons in both pictures are different. The persimmons in the first picture were purchased last year at the farmer’s market in Houston. The other ones with lighter color and cut in half are purchased from Calgary’s Chinatown. The persimmons purchased at the Chinatown were more delicious.