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Thursday, October 28, 2010

In season: Persimmons

Persimmons are coming into season, and I had a recent discussion about choosing the right variety. A persimmon is such a unique time bomb of a fruit; unless it is completely ripe, many varieties will be mouthpuckeringly astringent. Both the American species, and the Asian species (hachiya) exhibit this astringent property. Consequently, as a rule, these varieties can only be eaten when they are pudding soft in texture. Which turns some people off, even though the flavor can be spicy and very sweet.

Fortunately, there are also non astringent varieties as well. Well, that's a misnomer, they are also astringent but lose the astringency earlier in the ripening process. The best known commercial variety is the fuyu, and thus, most non astringent varieties come to be known as fuyus as well, even though they may not be.

The fuyu is a little more squat, and can be eaten while it's still crisp like an apple. One can also wait until they ripen completely and be soft, but the firmer textured fruit offers opportunities the completely ripe form does not, such as slicing thinly for salads. Ripening does allow for a more intense flavor.

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