Their botanical name, Diospyros, is Greek
for "food of the gods," but their sweet taste isn't
the only thing that's celestial about persimmons.
They're power-packed, too: rich in vitamin A, potassium,
fiber, and disease-fighting phytochemicals lutein
and lycopene, as well as other antioxidants. They
even outrank apples. A recent study pitted persimmons
against apples in a head-to-head comparison, and found
that persimmons had twice as much fiber, and significantly
higher levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron,
Research found that a persimmon a day could help fight
heart disease because their polyphenols (antioxidants)
help prevent bad cholesterol from accumulating in
your arteries. "The more mature they are, the more
flavonoids they have. So you should eat them when
they have their prettiest color and are truly ripe,"
says Barry Swanson, PhD, a professor of food science
and nutrition at Washington State University. Another
new study from Korea has found that eating plenty
of persimmons, among other fruits, leads to a 57 percent
lower risk of precancerous colon polyps in women.
Persimmons are popping up on menus in dishes like
the spinach salad with persimmons and caramelized
pecans, and and sweet-and-sour persimmons.
Fresh persimmons start arriving in grocery stores
later this month, and peak in November and December.
But some specialty markets carry dried persimmons
all year long. With their glossy orange-red skin,
they look like a cross between a red apple and a yellow
Two types of the fruit were brought here from China
and Japan in the mid to late 19th century, and now
grow primarily in California. The Hachiya persimmon
is acorn-shaped and soft, with a tangy-sweet flavor
when it's ripe. And the Fuyu is smaller, rounder,
and more tomato-shaped, with a firm texture and sweet
Choose Fuyus that are firm and crisp like an apple;
you can eat them skin and all. With Hachiyas, to get
the best flavor, go for ones that are completely ripe
and soft. Either way, look for deeply colored fruitswithout
blemishesdisplayed in individual nests because
they bruise easily. You can ripen a persimmon at room
temperature, then refrigerate it for up to 3 days.
So what do you do with a persimmon?
- Enjoy them raw, on their own, or with cheese or
- Use mashed-up persimmons in spice cookies, breads,
cakes, or muffins.
- Toss a cut-up persimmon in a salad of bitter greens
with toasted pecans or walnuts and vinaigrette.
- Scoop out the ripe flesh, heat it in a saucepan
with a little olive oil, and use it as a glaze over
chicken, duck, fish, or pork.