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Friday, November 13, 2009

What the Fuyu?

Persimmons are small, squat fruits that look like the offspring of a tomato and a sugar pumpkin. They taste like nothing I’ve had before…sweet like pears or apples with a squash-esque note. Sounds bizarre, but these orange beauties are delicious!

Although there are many different types of persimmons out there, two varieties are seen most often; the Fuyu and the Hachiya. These two types of persimmons look almost identical, but can be identified by their their shape. And, you definitely want to be able to distinguish the two...

The Fuyu persimmons are flat on the bottom and have the best flavor when they are still firm...but don’t get too comfortable munching on firm persimmons. Beware the Hachiya variety. Hachiya persimmons are incredibly tannic and astringent until they have fully ripened. They are heart-shaped and should only be eaten when they are squishy soft (spreadable even). If you eat a Hachiya Persimmon when it’s still firm, your tastebuds will hate you. If you eat it when it’s smushy gushy, your tastebuds will love you.

I’ve got an assortment of persimmons hanging out in my kitchen. The Hachiyas are still too firm to eat, so I’ve been experimenting with the Fuyu variety. Although they are perfectly yummy when eaten like an apple, sometimes it’s fun to add a little variety to the mix…like with this Fuyu Persimmon and Cranberry Compote recipe.

The compote is absolutely delicious, especially over vanilla yogurt with some toasted walnuts scattered on top. This compote is tart and a bit sweet with dried cherry/plum flavors (likely imparted by the wine). What a nice way to treat a Fuyu.

Fuyu Persimmon and Cranberry Compote
3 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
1 lime, juiced and zested
1/4 cup dry red wine
1/3 to 1/2 cup honey (depending on taste)
1 star anise
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
Pinch of salt
3-4 Fuyu Persimmons (about 1 lb total), peeled if desired and cut into 1/4-inch dice

Bring all ingredients except the persimmons to a boil in a saucepan, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Discard star anise and stir in persimmons. Enjoy warm or cold.


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