What's the Deal With: Persimmons

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Chances are you've seen them at the farmers' market lately. Like pomegranates, pumpkins, apples and pears, fall is the season for this somewhat perplexing fruit known as a persimmon. Usually some shade of orange and resembling a tomato with a sort of brown flower bud in leiu of a stem, persimmons are likely conjur a jumble of questions to swirl though the heads of those unfamilar with them. Are they a fruit? Are they a vegetable? How does one eat a persimmon and what on earth do they taste like? Well, here's the deal. The most common type of persimmon typically found in farmers' markets are Fuyu and Hachiya. The Fuyu are a lighter orangish-yellow in color and sort of squat in shape, whereas the Hachiya are a darker orange and are more oblong or conical in shape. Hachiyas are considered to be more flavorful but must be eaten in a very specific level of ripeness (soft and shriveled almost to the point of mushy), otherwise the the flavor will be unpleasantly astringant. Fuyus are popular because they can be consumed when they are still a bit firm.

Persimmon enthusiasts insist the best way to eat a raw Hachiya is to just slice it open and spoon it out. Their delecate, sweet flavor makes them ideal to use in jams, chutneys, sorbets, baked goods and other desserts. Classically they are used in English-style steamed puddings. Fuyus, on the other hand, can peeled and diced, combined with cilantro, red onion and jalepeno pepper making an unusual salsa or sliced and tossed into salad along with other flavors of the fall like pomegranate.

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