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Beautiful Orange Persimmons

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Persimmons are originally from China but they are often referred to as Japanese or Oriental persimmons or D. kaki species.  In Japan they are the national fruit and called Kaki. The seeds were brought to the United States in 1854 and first planted around Washington D.C. but the early frost killed them.  Now California and Florida are the main states that grow persimmons commercially. In fact California grows almost 100% of the persimmon crop in the United States.  They are also grown in Texas, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Missouri.

Fuyu Persimmons

The Fuyu and the Hachiya are the leading commercial varieties of persimmons you will find in the United States. The harvest usually starts around the beginning of October and goes through December. It can extend into January if there is no winter freeze.  In California over half of the persimmons are grown in Tulare and Fresno counties. The other main areas are Orange, Riverside and San Diego counties and a very small amount are grown in Sutter and Placer counties north of Sacramento.

Earl’s has Fuyu persimmons from Kaki Farm located in Gridley, California about an hour north of Sacramento.   The farm is appropriately named after the Asian word for persimmon since the main crop grown is 8.5 acres of Fuyu persimmons.  All of the crops on the farm are organically grown, and have been certified by CCOF since 1991.  They pack and store the fruit on the farm, and are helped by a number of members of their extended family, as well as other neighbors in the community.

Fuyu’s are short, squat and non-astrigent and when ripe they have a sweet flavor with a hint of cinnamon and apricot.   You can eat them raw when they are firm or soft and they do not need to be peeled.  Fuyu’s can be eaten like an apple, cut up and eaten on their own or great in a Persimmon Pomegranate Fruit Salad.   You may sometimes find a few seeds inside but they are easy to eat around.

Hachiyas are tapered and shaped like an acorn.  They are highly astringent and bitter and need to be jelly soft before they are edible.  Hachiyas are most commonly used for baking in cakes, cookies and muffins and are rarely eaten raw.

Hachiya Persimmons www.marketforays.com

Persimmons unlike many fruits will keep longer if left at room temperature.  Once they are in the refrigerator they will go soft faster and will need to be eaten quickly. Look for persimmons with smooth skin and no bruising.

Persimmons are an excellent source of Vitamin A, C and fiber and full of antioxidants.

Cool fact: The light colored, fine-grained wood from a persimmon tree is used to make billiard cues, drum sticks, golf clubs and furniture.

If you have never tried a persimmon this is the year to be adventurous and pick one up at the store. We would love to hear your comments and recipes on Earl’s Facebook page.

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