Origin of Hachiya Persimmons
The Diospyros genus has approximately 400 species, all with various homes spread across Asia, Africa, South America and Central America. According to the book, “Fruits and Nuts,” hachiya persimmons are native to East Asia, specifically southern China. Botanists are unsure as to which Diospyros strain produced centuries-old Hachiya persimmons, but one theory is that it comes from Diospyros glandulosa. Civilizations in present-day Japan, Korea and China were cultivating the fruit since prehistoric times. Several ancient Chinese poems and books reference the fruit.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, these countries continue to be the world’s largest persimmon producers. China produces the vast majority of fruits per year, growing approximately 3.3 million tons in 2011. Korea is the second largest, producing only 390,000 tons by comparison. Japan is third, followed distantly by Brazil, Azerbaijan, Spain, Italy, and Israel.
The book, “Temperate Horticulture” cites that Europeans brought the persimmon to India’s soils in 1921. In 1941, farmers in the Shimla district planted the fruits alongside apples. Despite the fruit’s introduction to the country nearly a century ago, persimmons remain relegated to household gardens and a handful of orchards in the north. The Indian horticulture department estimates that in Himachal Pradesh, 10,000 farmers grow the fruits on roughly 397 hectares.
Availability of Hachiya Persimmons in India
The persimmon market in India is limited for a number of reasons, mostly because of low demand and paucity of supply. The relative newness of persimmons in India means that the country still lacks organization and technology necessary for broad cultivation.
However, several of India’s cooler regions grow persimmons: Examples include Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and the hills of Uttar Pradesh. The temperate regions of Kullu, Mandi, Solan, Chamba, and Shimla are best for persimmon growth. A few trees also grow in the chilly Coonoor hills of Tamil Nadu.
Persimmon cultivation has potential, though, as a single tree may bear 200 kilograms of the fruit per year. In Himachal Pradesh alone, 2009 figures reveal that the state grew 224 tons. Some of the fruits reach Delhi’s Azadpur Market, reputed to be the largest wholesale market for fruits and vegetables. Regrettably, persimmons tend to go overseas to China and Japan, rather than hit the stores of India.
Fruiting season begins in mid September and lasts until November, sometimes December.
Where to find Persimmons in India
Persimmons are found exclusively in the regions in which they grow. Unfortunately, postharvest care is difficult given the fruit’s sensitivity: picking the fruit too early strips it of flavor, whereas transporting soft, easily bruised ripe persimmons is a logistical headache. Thus, it’s unlikely to find persimmons in many markets.
Checking for Ripeness in Persimmons
Ripe Hachiya persimmons should be tender to the touch, heavy for their size and squishy like an overripe tomato about to burst with juice. The color should be rust red: darker fruits tend to be sweeter. They are also comparable to tomatoes in their velvety, soft skin when ripe.
Fuyu persimmons do not bear the same reddish ovoid shape; instead, they are a golden, amber mustard color. When ripe, they too should be soft to the touch, but not squishy like Hachiyas.
Persimmons are seldom available in the markets in their ripe state—this is partly because shipping them in their ripe state would be disastrous: Like peaches, they would crush easily, particularly the soft-fleshed Hachiyas. If consuming persimmons from the tree, wait for them to fall from the branches.
Black marks and wrinkles on the skin have no bearing on the edibility of the fruit; they are perfectly common and in fact, may taste better if displaying these marks. Do not mind a whitish coating on the fruit, either, and expect brittle, dry leaves on top of the fruit. The ugliest-looking persimmons often taste the sweetest.
Hachiya persimmon is an astringent variety, and one must wait for the fruit to ripen almost to the point of decay. Again: the fruit’s exterior may not look pretty, but waiting until this stage ensures the pulp is sweet and its bitterness gone.
If a Hachiya persimmon is underripe, it’s evident in the astringent, bitter taste from the high tannin content. One bite of an underripe persimmon is akin to taking a bite of an underripe banana: the mouth gets coated with a bitter, starchy, chalky astringent taste. As the hachiya ripens, it loses these unpleasant qualities.
Here’s a video discussing hachiya persimmons:
Taste of Persimmons
Persimmon has an understated richness: it is mellow, sugary, warm, rich, and at times, mildly spicy. If the fruit tastes bitter or off-putting, the fruit is unripe. Persimmons may be an acquired taste and it’s best to taste two or three fruits before formulating an opinion. Like papaya, the taste is sweet but possesses no zesty, overt flavor. Hachiyas have a brighter flavor than Fuyus, but are otherwise similar.
The ideal texture of a hachiya is a cross between a creamy mango and a ripe apricot: fleshy, juicy, and gelatinous. Fuyu’s texture is firmer, and unlike a Hachiya, will remain intact when cut.
According to the USDA nutrient database, 100g of edible persimmon contains the following values:
19.6g Carb (6% RDI)
3.6g Fiber (14% RDI)
.2g Fat (negligible)
.6g Protein (negligible)
1627iu Vitamin A (33% RDI)
7.5% Vitamin C (13% RDI)
.7mg Vitamin E (4% RDI)
2.6mcg Vitamin K (3% RDI)
.1mg B6 (5% RDI)
161mg Potassium (5% RDI)
.1mg Copper (6% RDI)
.4mg Manganese (18% RDI)
Health Benefits of Persimmons
Persimmons are a good source of vitamin C, carotenoids, exceptionally high in vitamin A, and high in manganese.
Studies illustrate several health benefits of persimmons:
--A 2013 edition of Food Chemistry published a study indicating that persimmons have antifungal agents, and may be a possible replacement for chemical fungicides.
--A study published in a 2010 edition of Oncology Reports shows that persimmon leaves may be useful in acute promyelocytic leukemia therapy.
--A 2007 study published in the Journal of Chinese Medicinal Materials found that persimmon leaf’s flavones induce tumor necrosis in cancerous smooth muscle cells.
--A study published in a 2010 edition of Phytotherapy Research reveals that persimmon fruit has bile acid-binding activity, and thus has a hypolipidemic effect.
--As per a study published in the 2009 edition of the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, compounds found in persimmon leaves have a neuroprotective effect beneficial in the treatment of several neurodegenerative disorders.
--A study published in Phytotherapy Research found that the peel extract also shows promise as an antitumor agent.
How to Open/Cut
First, remove the leafy top of the persimmon: Reach under the leaves as near to the core as possible and twist off the section. Wash any dirt or residue lingering under the fruit.
Many find a fuyu’s skin to be slightly tough but edible: Scoop the contents with a spoon or cut into slices. Hachiya’s skin is often too bitter to consume. Thus, scoop out, squeeze, or suck out its gelatinous, gooey flesh.
If ripening is required, place the persimmons in a brown paper bag with a banana: the banana emits a natural gas that promotes ripening of other fruits. Otherwise, leave on the kitchen counter and wait for the fruit to ripen.
Ripe persimmons keep for only a day or two at room temperature, and refrigeration doesn’t improve their longevity. Unripe fruits keep for a month in cool storage.
To freeze, puree the fruit, add lemon juice, and then transfer to a freezer bag. The pulp will keep for six months.
Hachiya Persimmon Recipe Ideas and Uses
--Heating persimmons does not adversely affect the taste, and the pulp may thus be added to the batter of sweet breads, muffins, bars, cakes and cookies. In fact, heat removes Hachiya’s astringency.
--Mix persimmon pulp into pumpkin pie batter.
--Stir into soy or coconut milk ice cream and add other warm, seasonal fall flavors like cinnamon, honey, and cardamom.
--Use persimmons in smoothies. Add bananas, vanilla extract, hazelnut extract, almond pulp, and chai tea concentration.
--Make “yoghurt” by pureeing persimmon pulp with sugar, lemon juice, vanilla extract, silken tofu, a pinch of salt, and maple syrup (optional). Sample the mixture and add more or less of these ingredients as desired. If adding more silken tofu and maple syrup, the concoction may also be used as a vegan cheesecake filling.
--Substitute persimmon in many recipes calling for peach puree
--Use the pulp as a substitute for jam. Smear on pancakes, cinnamon toast and other sweet breads.
--Make two slits at the fruit’s tip into an “X.” Peel back these incisions and fill the flower-like fruit with liqueur, sweetened coconut cream, and sprinkle with chopped nuts. Eat as a dessert.
--Make a flan with the pulp
--Blend the pulp into soup recipes, particularly autumnal carrot or pumpkin-based soups.
|Raw vegan persimmon pudding from|
Note: Many persimmon recipes do not mention if it’s a soft, pulpy hachiya or a firm-fleshed Fuyu. Hachiyas cannot be chopped into firm chunks and are therefore inadequate in the recipes below.
Recipe ideas for Fuyu persimmons:
--Add chunks to a salad consisting of walnuts, pomegranates, tofu cheese, apple, and plum.
--Put cut chunks of fuyu persimmon in cobblers and oatmeal bakes
--Use chunks in salsa recipes consisting of tomato, pomegranate, grated carrot, and jalapeno.
--Add pieces to oatmeal, especially maple syrup and cinnamon flavors.
--Roast persimmon and place on skewers. Marinate with sweet chocolate balsamic vinegar syrup.
Fruits: Date, mango, Asian pear, date plum, fig, cherry, quince
Vegetables: Pumpkin, sweet potato, yam
Herbs, spices, and oil: Cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, mace, brown sugar, molasses, caramel, honey, vanilla, orange, dates, walnut, brandy, port, red wine, spiced rum, ginger, raisin, cranberry, pomegranate, apricot, sapodilla, coffee, black tea, chocolate, pecan, walnut, almond, pumpkin seeds, nut butter, pistachio, thyme, apple cider, black pepper, cumin, mustard seed, soy sauce
According to their classification, persimmons are actually berries.
Hachiya persimmon is the national fruit of Japan.