Persimmons

The oriental persimmon is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries. The plant was introduced to the U.S. in the mid 1800’s. Persimmons do best in areas that have moderate winters and relatively mild summers. You can also find them growing along the South Atlantic and Gulf states, southern Ohio and Missouri, eastern Kansas and Oklahoma and southeastern Iowa. A persimmon is a fruit that looks like a bright orange tomato. Some people attempt to describe its flavor by comparing it to juicy pumpkin mixed with allspice and cinnamon. There are two varieties (well, actually more’ about two thousand’but two that sum up the shape and ripening differences). Persimmons can be classified into two general categories: those that bear astringent fruit until they are soft jelly ripe and those that bear non-astringent fruits. The astringent varieties are unpalatable if eaten before ripening. But can be prepared for commercial purposes by drying. The Fuyu variety has squarish sides. It can be eaten firm or soft. The Hachyia variety is more cone-shaped. It is at its best when it is very ripe and soft; in fact, over-ripe before eating them, as before that they will be very tart and have real pucker power. The color of the fruit also varies from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red. The size can be as little as a few ounces to more than a pound. Persimmons are widely available September through December, with a peak during November. The entire fruit is edible except for the seeds and calyx. You can eat them fresh or dried, raw or cooked. When eaten fresh the peel is usually cut/peeled off and the fruit is often cut into quarters or eaten whole like an apple. The flesh ranges from firm to mushy and the texture is unique. The flesh is very sweet and when firm possesses an apple-like crunch. You can avoid the bitterness by soaking the persimmon in salt water for a minute before you eat it. The salt will remove most of the bitter taste in your mouth. Persimmons may be stored at room temperature where they will continue to ripen. Store them in the refrigerator when ripe. Be sure to eat the fruit as soon as possible because overripe persimmons quickly turn to a mushy texture. Choose fruit that are plump and have glossy and smooth skin. Avoid fruits with blemishes, bruises or cracked skin and missing the green leaves at the top. A medium sized persimmon has 120 calories, 6 grams of fiber, free of fat, sodium and cholesterol, and is a good source of vitamin C. The raw fruit is used to treat constipation and hemorrhoids and to stop bleeding. As such, it is not a good idea to consume too many persimmons at once’they can induce diarrhea. The persimmon can be used in cookies, cakes, puddings, salads and as a topping for breakfast cereal. Molasses can be made from the fruit pulp. A tea can be made from the leaves and the roasted seed is used as a coffee substitute. Frozen Persimmons 4 very ripe Hachiya persimmons Wash the persimmons carefully, then place on a tray or individual plates, stem sides down. Freeze for about two hours, until very firm but not rock-hard. Serve, using a spoon to scoop out the stem and dive into the contents. May be served with whipped cream or ice cream. Next week: Cranberries Facts in these articles are obtained from medical and clinical journals, scientific publications, and published tradebooks. These articles have been written and published strictly for information purposes. For any questions contact Susan at trijrsL@msn.com or www.fruitandveggienurse.com

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