Seasonal Eats: Getting Playful With Persimmons

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Fuyu Persimmons (Heather Parlato/Used with permission)

By Heather Parlato/Special to LAist

If you didn't grow up with a persimmon tree in your back yard, your only exposure to this late-fall fruit may have been a downplayed basket in the corner of your supermarket's produce section. It's really too bad this delicious, beta-carotene-rich treat gets so little attention, and a stark contrast to what you'll find at the farmer's market this time of year, where you can buy them by the branch-full from October to February.

There are two main types of persimmons commonly found in the US, hachiya and fuyu. Both polish up to a smooth, shiny skin and come in a lovely red-orange shade, though acorn-shaped hachiya maintains a high astringency until fully ripened. The more popular tends to be the tomato-shaped fuyu, which is sweet, mild, and may be eaten raw even when the fruit is still firm to the touch. for the nutrition-conscious, persimmons are about 120 calories each, have a glycemic-load of 8, and are a great source dietary fiber, as well as vitamins A and C.

Adding persimmons to your diet is surprisingly easy, since they have about the same sugar content of a mango, and a firm flesh similar to a tomato. You can play on mixing sweet and savory by adding them to salsa, let the sugars sweeten your cranberry sauce, or marinate them into a relish.

Persimmons also do really well in salads with fall favorites, such as persimmon and avocado salad, prosciutto, persimmon, pomegranate & arugala salad, or dress them with complimentary flavors in persimmon salad with ginger, mint and yogurt. I really like an Italian-style sliced persimmons & apples arranged caprese-style, with olive oil, white wine vinegar, pepper & sea salt.

Since persimmons are packed with flavor, don't pass up the obvious—dessert! How about a persimmon rosemary bellini with a persimmon rosemary tart? If that's too crazy, there's always a traditional tart. Care for cinnamon-sprinkled dried persimmon rounds as a snack? For those who love to bake, there are these lemon-glazed persimmon bars.

I chose to puree a couple and make ice cream. Since persimmons have a lightness to them that goes well with Asian spices, I chose a couple that would be a nice compliment and made this very simple blended ice cream. If you don't have an ice cream maker, pour them into ice pop molds. enjoy!

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Spiced Persimmon Ice Cream (Heather Parlato/Used with permission)
Spiced Persimmon Ice Cream

2 cups whole or 2% milk, chilled
2 fuyu persimmons, chopped
2 tbs raw wildflower honey
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground anise
1 small pinch nutmeg

If your ice cream maker has components that need to freeze ahead, make sure they're frozen and ready to go.

Add all ingredients to your blender and puree until mostly uniform (find the delight in particulates, they add character(. Taste to make sure you like the sweetness and modify if you wish.

Pour blender contents into your ice cream maker and run it until the mixture reaches a thick slush consistency. Spoon into a container and store in the freezer.

To serve, spoon into dessert cups and garnish with a persimmon wedge. Or dust the top with ground cardamom. Or add ground pistachios or pine nuts—go to town, garnishing is all you, baby!