Fabulous Fuyus

This morning I took a bike ride down the River Road, a paved two-lane road sitting atop the levee adjacent to the Sacramento River that doesn’t get much traffic, especially on weekdays. As I rode I could see the river lazily wandering on its journey to the San Francisco bay and beyond to the ocean off to one side and off to the other farmland, most of which is fallow now, dotted with a few houses and out buildings. This is one of my favorite rides and I don’t seem to tire of the scenery even when I have ridden the road for consecutive days. I usually see something memorable or unusual on these rides that cover 10 to 15 miles. And today was no exception.

As I was riding I was looking down towards one of the small farm houses admiring a beautiful persimmon tree heavily laden with fruit that was growing not far from the house when I noticed a couple of the low hanging fruits seemed to be moving. This was odd since there was no wind to speak of, so I slowed down, stopped and took a more focused look. What I saw was wild turkeys gathered beneath the branches pecking the fruit. I’ve seen turkeys many times on my rides but I’ve never seen them foraging fruit. The turkeys must have known that they didn’t have to worry about being chased off from their bountiful find since this farmhouse doesn’t currently have a dog in residence  and they were taking full advantage of the situation.

Turkeys aren’t the only ones who love fresh persimmons. A year ago I wrote about persimmons and what the term “true berries” meant and how I have grown to love these deliciously, crispy fruits. I have been buying them at the Farmers Market for weeks now and so far I haven’t tired of them. Sometimes I  chop them into small pieces add some chopped walnuts and a sprinkling of cinnamon and add it all to my morning bowl of oatmeal, but last night I used them in another favorite way, in a salad with baby spinach leaves and toasted pumpkin seeds all topped with a tasty little vinaigrette I had made using some Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup I picked up when I was in New Mexico in November. If you don’t happen to have any Prickly Pear Cactus Syrup vinaigrette available you could use vinaigrette made with pomegranate syrup or your favorite raspberry vinaigrette. You could also add any of the following to the salad; sliced red onion, pomegranate seeds, chopped Hazelnuts or candied pecans, sliced roasted beets or some goat cheese. They’re all delicious additions.

Poking around on the Internet I found the following recipes and uses for persimmons. They sounded too good not to share:

From KQED – Bay Area Bites

Fuyu Persimmon, Pear and Walnut Rolled Tart

Persimmon, Fennel and Almond Couscous

Fuyu Persimmon, Pear and Pine Nut Salad

From Destination Food

Pulled chicken salad with persimmon, witlof (endive) and avocado

and

WikiHowHow to Eat a Persimmon

Since finding a loaded tree that I can forage from hasn’t happened it looks like I’ll be picking up my fresh Fuyu this Sunday at the Farmers Market.

From Wikipedia – Persimmon

A persimmon is the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros in the ebony wood family (Ebenacae). The word Diospyros means “the fire of Zeus” in ancient Greek. As a tree, it is a perennial plant. The word persimmon is derived from putchamin, pasiminan, or pessamin, from Powhatan, an Algonquian language of the eastern Untied States meaning “a dry fruit”. Persimmons are generally ligh yellow-orange to dark red-orange in color, and depending on the species, vary in size from 1.5 to 9 cm (0.5 to 4 in) in diameter, and may be spherical, acorn-, or pumpkin-shaped. The calyx often remains attached to the fruit after harvesting, but becomes easier to remove as it ripens. They are high in glucose, with a balanced protein profile, and possess various medicinal and chemical uses.

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).