From Lauren Chandler, Chef Instructor, MSW
When persimmons ripen, my sadness that fig season is over vanishes upon first bite. If you aren’t already eating them, perhaps you have noticed those orange, squat-tomato-looking fruit in the grocery store, farmers market, and on trees all around town? Those are *Fuyu persimmons.
Aside from their unique and delicious flavor, persimmons offer vitamins A and C, along with B-complex vitamins and fiber. They’re packed with phytonutrients, flavonoids and anti-oxidants, along with manganese, which promotes healthy skin and helps prevent cancers of the lung and mouth.
Years ago, I dedicated a winter to cooking, baking, roasting, pureeing, freezing those beauties. My goal was to discover the optimal preparation methods. After all of my recipe developing, tweaking, and taste testing, I came to the conclusion that the best persimmon is the raw persimmon. When cooked, the flavor and texture I enjoy so much fade to the background. I eat them right out of hand like an apple, and also slice them and use them in grain dishes, green salads, fruit salads, and on cheese plates.
Here’s an easy dish that I recently made to initiate some friends into the world of persimmons. Taco night will never be the same if you make this!
Brussels Sprouts & Persimmon Slaw
Serves 4-6 as a side dish
3 cups thinly sliced or shaved Brussels sprouts
2 firm Fuyu persimmons, cut into matchsticks
¼ cup roughly chopped cilantro
3 tablespoons toasted sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt, (optional – if you like a creamier slaw)
2 tablespoons minced red onion
1 lime, juiced
½ – 1 teaspoon chili powder
Sea salt to taste
Mix all of the ingredients together in a medium bowl and serve immediately. Best when fresh.
*Buyers beware! Note that in our neck of the woods, two types of persimmons are readily available – Fuyu, which I describe above, and Hachiya. You can distinguish them from one another because Hachiya are acorn shaped and taller than the squat Fuyus. And unlike Fuyus, which taste great when crisp and hard or softer and riper, Hachiyas are astringent if they are not ripe. Do not, I repeat, do not attempt to eat a Hachiya persimmon unless it is fully ripened – so soft that they are like jelly on the inside. If you eat an under ripe Hachiya, I promise you’ll never try one again. And that would be a shame.