Farmers' Market Report: Pursuing Persimmons

Photos by Lara RabinovitchRed and green sometimes seem to be the only colors in use this time of year, but at farmers' markets in Southern California, orange abounds. As the weather gets colder, Clementines and other citrus hog the spotlight, but for the next few weeks we'll be seeing a lot of persimmons, too.

The two varieties most widely available are the prized and delicate Hachiya and the more common and resilient Fuyu. Hachiya persimmons are darker, with a pointed bottom, and usually larger than the Fuyu, which are distinguished by the their flat bottoms. Both of these vitamin-packed fruits ripen with time on the counter (or in a brown bag) so don't be afraid to buy your persimmons rock hard.

You are more likely to find a soft and nearly translucent Hachiya persimmon, much like the ones we spotted at Lim's Farm stand at the Melrose Place Farmers' Market this week. Unlike most fruit, Hachiya persimmons are best eaten once they are essentially over-ripe and their flesh nearly liquid. The easiest approach to eating this variety is by removing the top and leaves of the fruit with a paring knife and spooning out the interior, pudding-like (a not-so-skeptical child might even be convinced they're eating the indulgent dessert). Hachiyas are also recommended for baking as the soft interior of the fruit adds moistness and even a pumpkin-like flavor to cakes and muffins. Just try to stump your friends at your next holiday party.

While you may not have as much luck elevating your next bundt cake with a Fuyu persimmon, this more durable fruit makes an unusual addition to nearly any salad. Toss some sliced persimmon with baby spinach, goat cheese and chopped walnuts, or add them to an arugula or watercress salad for a sweet antidote to the bitter greens. They can also star as the main ingredient: a persimmon salad with pomegranates and pine nuts dressed in a honey-lemon vinaigrette would certainly inject a welcome orange color burst to any holiday table.

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About the Author

Sometimes known as the Doctor of Pastrami, Lara Rabinovitch is a writer and historian in Los Angeles.
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