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persimmon

Pronunciation: [puhr-SIHM-muhn]

The most widely available persimmon in the United States is the Hachiya, also called Japanese persimmon and kaki. It's large (up to 3 inches in diameter) and round, with a slightly elongated, pointed base. The Fuyu persimmon is smaller and more tomato-shaped. When ripe, both have a red-orange skin and flesh. The Hachiya is quite soft when completely ripe and has a smooth, creamy texture and a tangy-sweet flavor. If eaten even slightly underripe, the Hachiya will pucker the mouth with an incredible astringency. The Fuyu, however, is still firm when ripe and is not at all astringent. Cinnamon persimmon, a subvariety of the Hachiya, has a brilliant golden-orange skin and flesh, the latter of which is speckled with cinnamon-colored flecks. It can be eaten when firm or slightly soft, as one would a Fuyu. Sharon fruit is a sweet, round Israeli persimmon that can be eaten slightly underripe. It's found in Europe and the Middle East. Persimmons are available from October to February. Choose fruit that is plump and soft but not mushy (the Fuyu should be quite firm). The skin should be smooth, glossy and brightly colored. Persimmons that are not quite ripe can be ripened at room temperature. Store ripe fruit in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Persimmons can be used in baked goods, puddings and other desserts, as well as eaten out of hand. They contain a good amount of vitamin A and some vitamin C.