Although there are hundreds of persimmon varieties, most of us encounter two main types at the market or, like Emma, growing in our yards. Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons both have a sweet, spicy, uniquely persimmon flavor but knowing the difference between the two is critical when it comes to texture and ripeness.
Description: Fuyu persimmons are flattened and tomato-like in appearance and may be enjoyed firm or soft. The texture is similar to an apple or a pear.
How to select: Choose fruits that are deep orange and firm but not rock-hard.
How to store: Store at room temperature. Hard fruits will become softer and sweeter after two to three weeks.
How to prepare: Crisp Fuyus may be eaten out of hand like a spicy-sweet apple or sliced into wedges or discs. To peel or not to peel is up to personal preference. These persimmons are also good in salads, grain pilafs, cobblers, cookies, and in dried form.
Description: Hachiya persimmons are oblong and acorn-shaped and must be eaten when they are soft, as they are unpleasantly bitter and astringent when firm. The texture of a ripe Hachiya is pulpy and gelatinous.
How to select: 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.
How to store: Store at room temperature. To accelerate ripening, place them in a paper bag with an apple. Once soft, Hachiyas must be eaten within a few days.
How to prepare: Slice off the top and scoop out the flesh, which is delicious in puddings, baked goods, and sauces. These persimmons can also be frozen whole and then spooned out like sorbet. They are also good dried.
(Images: Emily Ho)