To me persimmons are one of the most visible symbols of Autumn. I have recently been gifted a bag of persimmons (for which I was extremely grateful), and have picked up several from local growers at the Rotary Club of Belconnen run Trash n Treasure markets. But everytime I tell my friends about my persimmon haul they ask me “but how do you eat persimmons”?
Simply, actually. You slice and peel them and eat them as is. I personally like eating them when they are firm; not as firm as an apple but not as soft or crunchy either. They are lovely consumed this way with a cup of green tea – all very zen. But a good friend advised me to wait until they are really soft and squishy as they are much sweeter this way. How you choose to enjoy them is a really a matter of personal preference.
I feel in love with persimmons when I lived in Taiwan. A friend worked at a hot spring resort in Kukuan, in the central mountain range. The local growers grew fat persimmons that they decorated with red calligraphy stickers. Each year she would send us a gift box or two, usually to mark the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival. I loved getting these surprises – they were truly beautiful and almost a shame to eat.
Most of my Taiwanese friends eat persimmons as a fruit, and they rarely cook it. But they can be cooked and integrated into Western cuisines. To prove this point, yesterday I made jam. The flavour is intense yet slightly exotic; it goes nicely on an English muffin with butter, but you could also include it on a cheese board. I made a small quantity because that way I could make it easily in my breadmaker. You can double or triple the quantity and make in a saucepan over the stove.
3 medium-large persimmons, preferably very ripe (around 500g)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon jamsetta
- If the persimmons are really ripe, cut in half and scoop out the flesh. It will look fleshy and pink, kind of like a mango. If less ripe, peel and then cut into pieces. My jam was a mixture of one ripe and two less ripe.
- Place the persimmons into a breadmaker, add the sugar and jamsetta. Cook according to your breadmaker setting until finished (my breadmaker takes 1 hour and 20 minutes).
- Spoon into steralised jars and seal. Makes one medium-sized jar. (My batch made this jar plus some.)