Delightfully Healthy! Persimmons

6644Sampling: December 11, 4:30-6:30pm.

Persimmons offer a special sweetness to baked goods, salads, and salsa. They are high in essential nutrients, and contain natural sugars that can be used to replace added sugars in different types of recipes. With a flavor similar to a very sweet apricot, persimmons gained popularity in the U.S. in the last few years. However, many people have still never tried them!

This week at the Co-op, we’ll show you two recipes using persimmons, which are in peak season right now. If you’ve never had a persimmon (or if you have never even heard of them) now is the perfect time to expand your fruit experience.

Types of Persimmons
Persimmons are the fruit of a tree native to East Asia. They are about the size and shape of a tomato, and can range in color from yellow to orange to red. There are two types of persimmons commonly sold in the US: Hachiya and Fuyu. Monadnock Food Co-op carries Hachiya persimmons, which have a smooth and velvety flesh when perfectly ripe. Hachiyas are typically peeled and pureed into a pulp used for baking, as we did in one of our recipes this week. Fuyu persimmons are best eaten raw like an apple, or chopped up in salads or salsa.

History and Growing Today
Persimmons are native to China, and first cultivated in Japan. In the mid-1800s, they crossed over to the U.S. and were first planted in Washington D.C. They grow in warm climates; in the U.S. they are mainly grown in California and in the Southeast. Look for persimmons between October and February.

Nutrition
Persimmons are high in vitamin A, vitamin C, manganese, and fiber. Vitamin A (found in a single persimmon at 55% of your daily recommendation) helps support eye health, skin health, immunity, and wound healing. Vitamin C (at 21% DV) is used in the body to synthesize tissues such as blood vessels, scar tissue, and cartilage, convert food into energy, and support our immune systems. Manganese (30% of your daily needs) is needed for development, metabolism, and the antioxidant system. Fiber is essential for maintaining gut health, regularity, and may reduce the risk of some forms of cancer. One persimmon delivers a whopping 6 grams of fiber, which is about 20% of your daily fiber needs. Baked goods containing naturally sweet persimmons require less sugar to be added, which creates a delicious dessert at a healthier pace.

Selection and Ripening
Choose persimmons based on similar criteria to a tomato. Look for firm, smooth skin that has a bit of a give. The green caps should be attached and still look fresh. Ripen persimmons in a paper bag, as unripe Hachiya persimmons are very astringent. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten crisp as an apple or soft and ripe.

Persimmon Salsa

Ingredients

6 Hachiya persimmons
2 cups roma tomatoes chopped (if not available other fresh tomatoes may be used)
3/4 cup red onion chopped
1/2 cup scallions chopped
4 cloves of garlic minced
1 1/2 cups cilantro chopped
2 limes squeezed for fresh juice
pinch of salt

Preparation

Add all ingredients to food processor and process.  Pour into serving bowl.  Makes about 6 cups of salsa.  A blender may be used, but be careful not to over blend.

Persimmon Pudding

Ingredients

2 cups Hachiya persimmon pulp; remove stem and skin
4 large eggs
1/4 cup butter melted
1/4 cup canola oil
3/4 cups 1% or nonfat milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange washed, dried, and grated for zest
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour *
1/2 cup sugar *
1 tsp baking powder *
1 tsp baking soda *
1 tsp salt *
1 TBS cinnamon *
1/2 tsp nutmeg *
1 tsp ginger *
1 tsp allspice *
1 cup walnuts chopped *
whipped cream (optional)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 400’F
1. In large bowl, mix all wet ingredients together.
2. In different bowl, mix all dry ingredients except nuts.
3. Gradually combine dry ingredients to wet ingredients. Mix well.  Add nuts.
4. Pour into 9×12 or 9×9 glass baking pan greased with cooking spray.  Bake in 9×12 pan for 35-40 minutes or 9×9 pan for 45-50 minutes.
5. Cool and serve with whipped cream (optional). Refrigerate leftovers.

* Can be purchased from MFC bulk section

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