Tuesday, February 12, 2013
First, there are two different types of persimmon here -- Fuyu and Hachiya. Please refer to this fantastic blog post for more information. Second, it would seem that many people in the Bay Area don't know what to do with the fruit that grows on trees in their own yards. I drive around and see neglected oranges and lemons and grapefruit -- and last Fall, persimmons. Both kinds.
Having never tasted a persimmon (how did I even know those trees were persimmon trees? I'm not sure. Something tickled at my brain until I did a little research), one day I finally got bold. That's right, I parked the car, walked up to a stranger's house, and knocked on the door. A very nice woman greeted me, and I complimented her on her beautiful (and loaded!) persimmon tree. She was so gracious, and offered me a paper sack and the use of her fruit picker (you can buy them at Home Depot) so I could gather some. She said she wasn't sure what to use the persimmons for, but I was welcome to come back and get more. I did. And then I proceeded to be bold and knocked on more doors. I picked persimmons wherever people would let me. My kitchen counters were covered in persimmons.
I tried several persimmon recipes, but I soon found that my very favorite way to eat persimmons was dried. The Hachiya variety made better dried fruit than the Fuyu. Chewy and fruity and sweet. Everyone loved them. I took some to the families that were kind enough to share their persimmons with me. Hopefully they enjoyed them enough to use some of their persimmons, but still let me come back next year.
The best way to cut persimmons for drying is to slice them right through the center axis, across the seeds. Some persimmons have no seeds, some have only one or two. As you're slicing, it's easy to extract the seeds from the flesh and then continue slicing. But don't pry them out with a sharp knife, or you'll probably slice into your finger (sad experience is an effective teacher).
My favorite savory dish was a chicken with persimmons and mushrooms stir fry. It sounded odd, but the flavors and textures were amazing.
Chicken with Persimmons and Mushrooms
inspired by Feeding Ger Sasser
2 T. coconut oil
3 lb. chicken, cut up
salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 "knuckle" fresh ginger, chopped finely
1/2 t. dried pepper flakes
5 Fuyu persimmons, peeled and diced
8 oz. mushrooms, sliced
juice of one orange
Brown the chicken in the coconut oil, season with salt and pepper. Set aside. Stir the remaining ingredients together in a large skillet. Place the chicken on top and simmer 20 minutes.