Sweet Persimmons – Versatile, Tasty and Good For You!
Persimmons originated in China and have been cultivated for well over a thousand years. They were first introduced into Japan in the Nara era between AD 710 – 794. The persimmon tree had its origin, according to Japanese folk legend, from the tremendous crack in the earth made when Yoshitsune the samurai leader felled the giant Benkei. The scientific name of the persimmon, Diospyros is derived from the Greek dios meaning divine and pyros which means grain or food. The only other food to be so exalted by botanists is cacao bean, its generic name Theobroma meaning nectar of the gods in Greek, so sit up and take notice folks, the persimmon must be a good feed!
Seasonal produce. Per and Helen generally attend the May and June markets
Before 1900 persimmons were the main fruit in Japan and a survey in 1912 of all their varieties recorded 1030 named cultivars and 937 un-named ones! The best ones are the so-called non- astringent varieties the sweet persimmons, arguably the best of these the Fuyu is the main variety grown in Australia and right here in our district.
Attractive to look at, the sweet persimmon is best eaten crunchy and firm like any other fruit. As a source of nutrition, the Persimmon rates high with high levels of Vitamin A beta carotene. They are an excellent source of Vitamin C and have at least twice the dietary fibre of apples and are rich in anti-oxidants.
When choosing Persimmons, look for ones that are firm and free of bruises, although skin blemishes do not affect the flavour and eating quality. The colour can range from pale orange to deep red orange.
Persimmons should not be stored in the fridge, keep them in a bowl, they will keep for about 2 weeks depending on their ripeness at the time of purchase.
The bad news is that Persimmons are not available all year round so take advantage of the May and June Markets to get your fill of this delicious fruit from Per and Helen Christensen from Ellendale Farm. Persimmon do however dry well keeping their colour so those of you with driers can enjoy these delicious fruits all year round.
Per and Helen have been growing persimmons on Ellendale farm in Balingup for over 25 years. The first trees they planted were imported from the eastern states in 1983 and they grew well loving the cold winters and hot dry summers. The trees are all under netting as the fruits are irresistible to birds especially parrots and crows! For most of the year the persimmon tree looks much like an apple tree but in autumn the comparison ends dramatically, the leaves turn bright orange, pink and red forming an incomparable autumn display. There can be no more stunning sight in a garden than a persimmon tree in full autumn colours with the bright yellow and orange fruits still hanging on the branches.
Serving Tips for Persimmons
Add some zing to your breakfast by adding chopped Persimmons to your cereal or porridge. Or another great breakfast idea: a delicious Persimmon shake. Just add soft Persimmons, vanilla ice cream, cinnamon, nutmeg and milk into your blender, blend and serve.
Serve as an appetizer or a snack: slicing them horizontally gives an attractive slice, useful for garnishing fruit, meat or cheese platters.
Persimmons can replace most fruits in recipes, including pies, muffins, salads and so on. Although the skin is edible and tasty, the skin may be a little tough so you may want to peel them unless baking them whole.
For a quick and easy dessert, just add chopped, pulped or pureed Persimmons to yoghurt, cream or ice cream.