Despite the rain, Sunday’s was tinged with deep orange as vendors showcased fresh persimmons for the fall. Baskets of this seasonal delight were found in booths all along the marketplace and vendors had plenty of ideas about how to use them.
First, a quick lesson in persimmons: There are primarily two types of persimmons available in Southern California: Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu persimmons are pumpkin-shaped flat fruits, whereas the Hachiya is more oblong like an acorn. The Fuyu is usually eaten raw while firm, like an apple, but the Hachiya persimmon is highly astringent and contains tannins, so it needs to ripen to a soft, mushy texture before being consumed.
Avila and Sons has organic Fuyus for $2.50 per pound or 3 pounds for $5; Scott Farms has Fuyu persimmons for $2 per pound; Atkins Nursery has Hachiya persimmons for $1.50 per pound and Fuyus for $1.20 per pound.
Arnett Farms has Giant Fuyus, not just the biggest of the Fuyus, but actually a specific variety unto itself. They are just coming into season so Arnett has a limited supply thus far. A quick chat with the vendor revealed that the Giant Fuyu is “a little sweeter and it turns a darker orange, almost red.” She also told me that you don’t have to wait for them to get soft because they are not astringent. You can find the regular Fuyu and Giant Fuyu for $2.50 a pound or a 3 pound bag for $7 at Arnett Farms.
Down at the south end of the market, Ace Ranch has large organic persimmons for $1 each. Summer Harvest Farms, at the mid-section of the market has certified organic Fuyus for $2.50 a pound.
The window of opportunity to enjoy persimmons is now through December. Grab a few to decorate your Thanksgiving table and a few more to eat raw. If baking is more your speed, try this recipe for persimmon bread, which uses either type:
Persimmon Bread (courtesy of Catherine Vargas of the Westside Produce Exchange)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup persimmon pulp
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (OPTIONAL)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup raisins (OPTIONAL)
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Oil a 9 x 4 inch pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, nuts, and raisins.
3. In a large bowl, blend eggs, sugar, and oil. Mix baking soda into pulp, and add to sugar mixture. Fold in flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared pan.
4. Bake for 75 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
There are a plethora of other recipes to take advantage of persimmon season this fall. Here’s a starting point. Just make sure to enjoy them before they’re gone.
Christy Wilhelmi is well known to many local Mar Vistans as The Gardenerd. Her website and blog at www.gardenerd.com offers information on classes, consulting and food-garden design.