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A focus on persimmons and their properties

Persimmons are among the most unique fruits. A bit like avocados, you either love them or hate them. Their flavour, in fact, is clearly distinct from that of any other fruit, as is their distinctly gelatinous consistency. Regardless, persimmons have unique characteristics, such as how they mature and how they are stored. In fact, they are harvested in the autumn months and consumed in the summer, as they require months of conservation before acquiring the gelatinous consistency that makes them tasty and edible.

However, persimmons are also precious fruits from a nutritional point of view. Despite their noticeable sugar content, they provide a balanced calorie intake of 70 kcal per 100 grammes. They have excellent levels of vitamins C and E, as well as high concentrations of calcium, phosphorus, and potassium. They are primarily rich in beta-carotene and significant antioxidants like lutein and lycopene.

Diospyros kaki, a tree native to China and Japan, is cultivated throughout Southern Asia, North America, and Southern Europe. The fruits can reach the size of an orange and are covered with a thin, shiny, orange, red, or speckled skin, depending on the variety. When ripe, the tough pulp softens and takes on a delightful, sweet flavour. Though it’s more practical to harvest persimmons around the end of November and allow them to ripen in storage, they ripen on the tree near the start of winter. These are bright fruits with the stem still attached, and they are available from October to December. Avoid those with stains, abrasions, or mould. Refrigerate them until they are ready to use. Prioritise eating the softer ones, and reserve the harder ones until they are edible.

The main varieties of persimmons

The varieties of persimmons, in reality, are not very numerous. However, most of them reach our tables. For this reason, I thought I would give you a quick overview.

  • Fuyu: The fruit is very large and heavy and has a spheroidal and slightly flattened shape. The peel tends to be yellow, as does the pulp. It is the most widespread variety of all.
  • Hana: This fruit is also very large. The shape, however, is slightly quadrangular, and the colour tends towards orange.
  • Jiro: It is a mix between the two previous varieties. The pulp is yellow, but the peel tends towards orange. Its size and sweetness tend to be average.
  • Oh Gosho: It is the type that has the richest flavour. Both the peel and the pulp tend to be orange-red.

Recipes with this delicious fruit

Persimmons are generally eaten raw, almost as if they were a dessert. If stored in the most suitable way and once they have acquired the typical gelatinous consistency, they can easily be consumed “with a spoon.” This does not mean that persimmons can’t be the protagonists of delicious recipes. Here I present two; the first stands out for its simplicity. I am referring to persimmons in extra virgin olive oil, a salad with a slightly acidic flavour that can be appreciated on our plates.

Another delicious recipe is the persimmon jam, the type of classic jam you don’t expect. Its flavour is slightly acidic but also distinctly sweet, with that particular aftertaste that is not found in any other jam. Obviously, it is used like any other jam.

What are the benefits of persimmons?

I’ve already discussed persimmons’ nutritional value. It’s time to go forward and discuss the advantages this fruit offers.

Diuresis: Persimmons stimulate diuresis, therefore supporting the function of the kidneys and urinary system. This is due to the presence of water, which is what gives them their pliability and softness, but more importantly, the availability of potassium.

Digestion: You can tell right away from the first taste that persimmons are high in fibre. Fibers stimulate intestinal mobility, preventing constipation or resolving milder episodes of constipation (which are not caused by more serious pathologies).

Liver function: Some trace elements present in persimmons protect the liver and support its purifying function.

Fatigue: Persimmons aid in regaining strength and getting back on track after rigorous exercise because they contain a very high concentration of mineral salts, which is uncommon even in the plant kingdom.

Cancer prevention: Because persimmons are high in antioxidants, they slow down cellular ageing and may help prevent some types of cancer.

When shouldn’t I consume this fruit?

As we have seen, persimmons bring a great deal of benefits. However, do they have any contraindications? Basically, there are no pathologies or even physiological conditions that can preclude the consumption of persimmons. Consuming too many persimmons carries certain hazards; after all, they are incredibly tasty fruits that may cause imbalanced eating habits.

When compared to other fruits that are found in the Mediterranean, persimmons “give” more calories. Given that a hectogram’s intake is equal to 130 kcal and that a persimmon’s edible portion weighs 130 grammes on average, we can calculate that a single fruit can supply up to 260 kcal.

Another risk associated with excessive consumption is dysentery; however, it is temporary. Persimmons contain a lot of fibre, which may lead to some digestive issues. It should also be eaten in moderation because it is sweet, especially for individuals who have diabetes. To be clear, persimmons have a mild glycemic index, but it’s still advisable to limit consumption.

How are persimmons eaten?

In addition to being delicious and healthy, persimmons are also incredibly adaptable because there are numerous ways to enjoy them. It tastes best when consumed “raw.” In this case, the persimmons are transformed into a sort of dessert. It goes without saying that the best fruit is fully ripe and, hence, very tender. To consume them, simply cut the fruit in two without touching the stem.

Next, proceed to dip the spoon as though you were eating dessert with a spoon. In actuality, the pulp is really soft and suitable for this kind of eating. Many people make the mistake of slicing the persimmon like an apple, which leads to an unsatisfactory outcome as the fruit crumbles and becomes challenging to consume without becoming messy.

Whether or not persimmons are an ingredient in more complicated recipes is irrelevant. In this instance, the pulp needs to be separated and filtered separately. The aim is to remove the seeds, which are edible but generally interfere with the preparation of recipes. This process is facilitated by the use of specific varieties of persimmons, such as the apple persimmon.  This type of persimmon has a thin and edible peel, which does not require a preliminary peeling phase.