Some of our relatives own a small persimmon farm, and they told us that peak harvesting season has just arrived. Our trip to the Hollywood Farmers' Market yesterday confirmed this news, as the brilliant orange fruits greeted shoppers at practically every turn.
The two main persimmon varieties available at the Hollywood Farmers' Market are Fuyu and Hachiya.
• Fuyu persimmons are flattened and tomato-like in appearance and can be enjoyed firm or soft. Choose fruits that are deep orange and firm but not rock-hard. Crisp Fuyus can be eaten out of hand like a spicy-sweet apple. When kept at room temperature for two to three weeks, the fruits become softer and sweeter. These persimmons are good for snacks, salads, cobblers, cookies, grain pilafs, and in dried form.
• Hachiya persimmons are oblong and acorn-shaped and must be eaten soft, as they are bitter and astringent when firm. Choose fruits that are deep orange or red. Dark spots caused by by sunburn are harmless unless the flesh is sunken or broken. Buy them soft and squishy (and handle carefully!) or keep them at room temperature for a week or two until they soften. Once soft, they must be eaten within a few days. These persimmons are ideal for purée to be used in puddings, baked goods, and sauces. They can even be frozen whole and then spooned out like sorbet. Like Fuyus, they can also be dried.
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(Images: Gregory Han)