This quince fest I’ve been having got me thinking about the persimmons that are ripening on the tree in my front yard.
They’re the Hachiya variety – gorgeous orange fruits that are picked hard and ripened counter-top. The pulp can’t be used until it’s completely soft and gooey, and it’s mainly used in cookies, breads or cakes. It has a particular flavor that I don’t love, so I was planning to leave the fruit on the tree this year. The squirrels love them.
When the Hachiyas are unripe, they’re terribly astringent and will suck every drop of moisture out of your mouth. Truly awful. But quince has some of the same qualities – it’s very tart and astringent as well, until it’s cooked or left to ripen to the point of decay.
I did a quick search online and didn’t come up with any immediate results for cooking unripe persimmon. But why not? I decided to experiment, slicing the fruit and poaching it gently in a simple syrup with some vanilla paste. It didn’t take long for it to be completely soft. I tried a slice – the astringency was almost completely gone.
I didn’t particularly like it, but it’s not bad. I kept thinking it smelled like pumpkin, so maybe that’s why I didn’t like it. I walked over to Assana’s and had her try it, and then she uttered the three words I’ve never heard her say when she’s eaten my food: “that’s not good”. I didn’t mention what I thought about it, and she mentioned that it was similar to pumpkin – which we both hate. No wonder neither one of us liked it.
My next two subjects were Larry and Emma. Larry loved it. Of course, he loves pumpkin. And Emma didn’t recoil either (pumpkin lover!). If you’re someone who likes pumpkin, you’d probably like poached Hachiya persimmon. I could see putting it on oatmeal, mixing it with yogurt, or eating it over ice cream. The syrup is really interesting, and I immediately thought it needed to go in a cocktail (Bourbon, syrup, lemon juice, bitters).
Poached Hachiya Persimmons
1 firm Hachiya persimmons
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla paste
Use a paring knife to core out the stem end of the fruit. Slice it in quarters lengthwise and remove the core and seeds. Cut each quarter lengthwise into 1/4″ slices.
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Add the vanilla paste and persimmon slices and raise the heat to medium.
Cook the slices until the fruit is tender – sample it before removing it from the heat to ensure that the astringency is mostly gone (to your taste). Mine took about ten minutes.
To poach more than one persimmon, use enough simple syrup (one part water to one part sugar) to cover the slices.
- Poached Hachiya Persimmons