Persimmons and Frozen Persimmon Sorbet

by on November 17, 2006
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I’ve been eating persimmons my whole life, but I never bought one until a couple of weeks ago. I grew up in southeast Louisiana, where my father, a horticulture professor at a research branch of LSU, kept (and still keeps) a garden full of interesting fruit trees. All throughout the year we’d enjoy the various fruits of his labor—tangerines, oranges, blueberries, lemons, figs, peaches, and pears— plus a few fruits none of my friends had ever heard of such as kumquats, calamondins, satsumas, and persimmons. As a child I believed that the unusual ones were monster fruits that my father had actually invented! But then I started seeing kumquats in stores, and I realized that my father was just about 20 years ahead of everyone else.

It went against my nature to buy persimmons when I know that there are perfectly good ones hanging like Christmas ornaments on my father’s trees, but since those persimmons are a two hour drive away, I decided to try the store-bought persimmons. And boy am I glad I did! These persimmons have something my father’s don’t. Or, rather, they don’t have something my father’s do—seeds. The persimmons I grew up eating had several seeds per fruit, so imagine my surprise when I cut open one of the store-bought persimmons and found no seeds:

Let me tell you, this is a big improvement! When you’re all set to eat a very ripe, juicy persimmon, the last thing you want is a bunch of seeds getting in the way.

I also found that there are two different types of persimmons being sold in my area. The ones in the two photos above are called Hachiya, and they have to be very soft before you eat them or they’ll have what they call an “astringent” quality, meaning they’ll make your mouth all puckery. They’re similar to the ones my dad grows, but without seeds. If you let them get so soft that you’re afraid they’ve gone bad, then they’ll taste so sweet and juicy that you’ll be scraping the skin with your teeth to get off all the fruit.

In an Asian grocery store, I found another variety of persimmon that I had never tasted. It was labeled “Japanese persimmon,” and from what I’ve read, they’re also called Fuyu. While the Hachiya is sort of acorn-shaped and often has a pointy bottom, the Fuyu is squatty, shaped more like a flattened apple. The wonderful thing about the Fuyu is that it is not astringent at all, and you can eat it while it is still hard and it will be sweet. I couldn’t believe how delicious the Fuyu I bought was and was sorry I’d only bought the one that you see in the photo on the left. I’ll definitely be going back to the market soon to get a whole bag of them.

I like to eat persimmons just as they are and have never felt the need to cook with them. (From what I’ve read, the Hachiyas are the ones you can cook with, but I really don’t see why Fuyus couldn’t be cooked, also.) It’s possible to make puddings, pies, cookies, and cakes with persimmons, so I went searching for an easy persimmon recipe that didn’t use a lot of sugar or flour, and I found the mother of all simple recipes—Frozen Persimmon Sorbet:

See what I mean? It doesn’t get much simpler than that. You just put the persimmon (washed, of course) into the freezer for about 2 hours, until it’s slushy but not frozen solid, take it out, cut off the top, and dig in with a spoon. A cool, delicious treat!

One caveat: I had high hopes that this would be a simple yet elegant dessert for serving guests, sort of like lemon sorbet served in lemon halves. Well, it was simple but not, I’m afraid, elegant. Persimmons have a tendency to collapse after you’ve taken a few spoonfuls from their centers, so if you want to get more than a couple of bites, you have to find some way to scrape the flesh off the inside, and there’s just no way to do that without getting your hands dirty. I’ve tried. It’s best to save the frozen persimmons for a cozy dinner with someone you love. Someone who doesn’t mind seeing you pick up a persimmon skin and scrape it clean with your teeth.

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BellsOn September 15, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I discovered persimmons after reading a poem by that name with my students. It is beautiful, and tells enough about the fruit to make me curious enough to buy them.
You'll find the poem here:http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poem.html?id=171753

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2 charan August 25, 2010 at 3:32 pm

Hi Susan,

I love to eat a persimmon a day.
By the way, I have a small compliment for you:
“You are looking sweeter than persimmon.”

Best Regards,
Charan

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3 Tommie November 17, 2010 at 11:17 am

If it’s a really GOOD Fuyu, you can eat the skin, too!

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4 Angie November 17, 2010 at 12:00 pm

You could forgo the ‘convenient’ container, scrape out the fruit into another container, partially freeze it, and then scoop it out into perfect little circles of delight. Right?

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5 k good November 21, 2010 at 8:18 am

I have 1 Fuyu tree. I’m guessing it is about 15 years old now. It grows very slowly but the fruit is WONDERFUL. I have many kinds of rescued animals which I share the fruit.
Probably this next year I will buy 1 or 2 more of the Fuyu (btw they have a few seeds but the seeds are no big problem).

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6 fellow persimmon lover November 25, 2010 at 1:10 am

I’m not the only person who loves persimmons! I will have to give the fuyu a chance again on your recommendation.

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7 Melissa December 4, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I tried this shortly after reading the blog. It was my first persimmon. I’m HOOKED. I let them freeze solid, hack off the tops and just gnaw them, skin and all. Not elegant in the slightest! But soooo goooood. Thanks for introducing me to such a wonderful treat.

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8 Alex December 9, 2010 at 9:04 am

Where can i order persimmons on line? They are sometimes difficult to find locally.

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9 Kat December 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Very cool! Just bought my first persimmon (not sure what stopped me before) and it got to the soft stage so I’ve put it in the freezer. Can’t wait to try it!

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10 Teresa rosado January 27, 2012 at 1:20 pm

I love persimmons. They are so sweet. I even eat the skin when it is really ripe. Sooo good.

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11 Lily November 9, 2013 at 12:47 am

Hi, just saw this and I was wondering if you could just leave the Persimmon overnight? Or would that make it too frozen? thanks :D
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also do you have any other fruits that you think would yield the same results considering Persimmons get pretty scarce where I’m from if they’re not in season…

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