Persimmons Are True Berries – WHAT?

When I saw the statement, persimmons are true berries, I had to find out more. What is a true berry and how could a persimmon be considered a berry? The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. OK, so in every day English what does that mean? It means that any small edible fruit,  that doesn’t have a stone or pit, although many seeds may be present is considered to be a “true berry”.  Think, Persimmons, grapes, red currants and tomatoes.  So now that we understand the “true berry” definition let me tell you a little bit about the winter true berry called persimmon.

I bought this Fuyu persimmon at the Farmers’ Market on Sunday. Actually I bought a nice little bag of small Fuyu for $1. I usually don’t buy fruit that is already bagged but these, although small in size, looked good and the price definitely was very good.

I became a fan of Fuyu within the last five years. Before that I was aware of them and had done some baking with the heart-shaped Hachiya, the most common variety of astringent persimmon. The Hachiya are the heart shaped persimmons that are unpalatable (or “furry” tasting) if you try eating them before they are soft, or ripe. The Fuyu, on the other hand, are non-astringent and may be consumed when still very firm, or soft like the one I ate today. Eating them when firm is definitely my preference but the soft one today tasted just fine. Of the two varieties I much prefer the Fuyu.

Researching tonight I found out there is a third type, less commonly available, the flesh is brown inside -known as goma in Japan, and the fruit can be eaten firm. Tsurunoko, sold as “Chocolate persimmon” for its dark brown flesh, Maru, sold as “Cinnamon persimmon” for its spicy flavor, and Hyakume, sold, as “Brown sugar” are the three best known. After reading about these I’ll definitely keep my eye out for them at my Farmers’ Market.

I like eating the Fuyu like an apple. I just slice it and eat it. I have read and heard that some prefer to peel the skin before eating, I don’t.  I’ve also discovered an enjoyable way of eating them at breakfast. I make my oatmeal, adding a little cinnamon before I cook it. Then, chop a Fuyu into small chunks and add it to the cooked oatmeal along with a small handful of coarsely chopped walnuts then finish it with a nice sized dollop of unflavored Greek yogurt. It’s a really nice way to start the day. I also use Fuyu in salads, much like I would a tomato in the summer.

If you have a favorite way to use persimmons please share them with us. And speaking of sharing here is a little trivia tidbit for all you golf enthusiasts.

Persimmon trivia for golf enthusiasts: Persimmon wood was heavily used in making the highest-quality heads of the golf clubs known as “woods” until the golf industry moved primarily to metal woods in the last years of the 20th century. In fact, the first metal woods made by TaylorMade, an early pioneer of that club type, were branded as “Pittsburgh Persimmons” (Wikipedia).

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