Local Bounty: December 3
A Persimmon Fest at Specialty Produce
You’ve seen write ups here of persimmons, but only the common Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons. The Hachiyas are the large slightly elongated variety. Fuyus are squat. But there are many more varieties of persimmons and I discovered four of them recently at Specialty Produce. They come from Penryn Orchard Specialties, a four-and-a-half acre orchard owned and farmed by Jeff Penryn in the foothills east of Sacramento. Penryn grows nine varieties of persimmons, along with nine varieties of Asian pears, three of European pears, six kinds of apples, and then there are the cherries, figs, peaches, plums… You get the picture.
The four I picked up at Specialty are all quite rare varieties but what they have in common is an uncommon flavor and plumminess. All can be eaten with the skin and firm or soft. But these all proved to go soft pretty quickly. Then it was like eating custards and jellies. Hurry over to get these before they run out—and remember them for next year, starting around the end of October. They’re all $4 a pound.
Mix of Tamopan, Tsurunoko, Maru, and Hyakume persimmons.
Aren’t these unusual looking? These acorn-shaped fruits look like persimmons wearing a hat. Not only are they decorative looking, but the vibrant orange flesh has a stunning, mildly sweet flavor and jelly-like texture perfect for a sauce or sorbet—or jam.
These are also known as chocolate persimmons, thanks to their dark flesh and actual flavor hints of cocoa. I loved the creamy custardy texture, reminiscent of cherimoyas. If they’re not too soft, half them and put them on the grill or under the broiler with a little brown sugar sprinkled on top, then enjoy with a soft cheese. Otherwise, they are perfect for puddings and sauces.
Maru, or cinnamon persimmons, are round with a deep orange red skin and cinnamon-colored flesh. They ripen to a plum-like consistency and have a light, spicy sweetness with a lot of juice. They, too, are great grilled or broiled. And, as with any of these, the soft flesh can be pureed and added to breads, muffins, cakes, and pies.
I really enjoyed this large oval persimmons. The yellow flesh is truly juicy and richly sweet. Now, if you can get when slightly soft, half it lengthwise, score the flesh and drizzle with a bit of almond liqueur, then scatter with toasted, chopped nuts and top with a little freshly whipped cream for a remarkable dessert.