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Persimmons: A Recipe, Health Benefits, and a Curious Folklore

Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon Pudding

From October to December, persimmons grace the fruit section of markets in California.  Their luxuriant orange hue always reminds me of the hour before sunset, when everything is diffused with a warm amber glow. What photographers refer to as the “magic or golden hour”;  when the world is illuminated by an ineffable beauty that is beyond human manipulation.  An ephemeral moment holding rich possibilities as the day transits into night.  Isn’t it wonderful that a fruit can conjure up such poetic, sweet imagery.  Well, at least for me.

Perhaps you could join me, by getting a few persimmons while they are in season, and trying the recipe that follows.

Two Persimmons

Hachiya (right) and Fuyu (left) Persimmons
at the “magic hour” in my kitchen

Two Types of Persimmons

There are many varieties of persimmons, and in the US, there are native persimmons grown all over the mid-west and southeastern states.
The native species is diospyros virginiana.  In fact, the name “persimmons” is derived from the American Indian language, Powhatan, and means “dry fruit”.

Most of the persimmons grown in California are of a species that originated in China; diospyros kaki.
This species is also divided into two types; astringent and non-astringent.
The astringent type is called hachiya and has an acorn-like shape.  It is not edible until it becomes very soft.
The non-astringent type is the fuyu, and resembles a tomato.  It can be eaten while firm and will become soft as it ripens.
It is best to remove the skin on both types before eating, as it contains high amounts of tannin.

Persimmons for Health

We all know the old adage, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”.  However, when researchers compared the two fruits side-by-side, persimmons came out
way ahead of apples.  It has more antioxidants, fiber, and higher levels of potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, and manganese.
So, enjoying a persimmon a day is a good way to load up on nutrients during the fall through early winter.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), persimmons are considered to be “cold”, meaning that it is therapeutic for “hot” conditions such as inflammation, or to help dissolve congestion, especially in the lungs.  A classic medical text written by Li Shizen ,who lived during the Ming Dynasty, claims that persimmons can benefit the spleen and stomach, relieve coughing, quench thirst, and kill parasites.

Can Persimmon Seeds Predict the Weather?

Well, you’ll just have to try it for yourself.
According to folklore, cutting open the seeds can reveal what kind of winter is looming on the horizon.
Of course, you will need to get fruits that are local in your area for “accurate” prediction.
When the seeds are cut in half, note the shape of the kernel.
If it is spoon-shaped, then there will be wet snow.
If it is fork-shaped, then light snow is expected, along with a mild winter.
If it is knife-shaped, then cutting winds are going to be blowing.
Hard to belief?  Click HERE to read the article from the Old Farmers’ Almanac.

Persimmon Pudding with Whipped Cream

Ingredients:
10 oz. fuyu persimmons, mashed (peeled and de-seeded;
about 3 – 4 ripe fruits will yield that amount)
1/3 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
2/3 cup water
2 Tablespoons kudzu powder, mixed with 1 Tablespoon water
Fresh whipped cream (optional)
Pomegranate seeds for garnish (optional)

Method:
1) Place the persimmon in a blender with 1/3 cup water, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and pinch of sea salt.  Mix until a puree is formed.
2) Scoop out a rounded tablespoon of the persimmon puree and place in a small pot along with  2/3 cup water. Bring to a gentle simmer.
(Leave the remaining puree in the blender.)
3) Whisk the kudzu mixture into the simmering persimmons mixture and stir until it thickens.  About 2 – 3 minutes.
4) Spoon the thickened mixture back into the blender with the persimmons puree and mix well.
5) Pour the mixture into four – 4.5 ounce ramekins, or martini glasses and put in the fridge to set for at least 2 – 3 hours.
6) Top with fresh whipped cream and pomegranate seeds to serve.

Download and Print Recipe

For Love of Food & Friends,
Karen

References:

Gorinstein, Shela. “A Persimmons A Day Could Be Better For Your Heart Then An Apple”. Feb. 5,2001. www.sciencedaily.com
Hayden, Richard. “Persimmons”, Sept. 2001. Purdue University Cooperative Extension Service. Dept. Of Agriculture. http://www.hort.purdue.edu/ext/HO-108.pdf

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