A Fuyu for You
By Chelsea Fisher
Among persimmons, only the Fuyu variety has been heavily researched for its nutritional compounds, and the findings show that this autumn gem is a great addition to a healthy diet. Fuyu persimmons contain free-radical-combatting compounds and nutrients including lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein, and phytonutrients, for starters, as well as betulinic acid, which is currently being researched for its anti-tumor properties. Though the heart-shaped Hachiya persimmon — the other widely available variety — has not been researched thoroughly, its bright-orange hue may indicate the presence of beneficial beta-carotene and lycopene.
The Fuyu provides a font of vitamins A and C, and contains 30% of your daily manganese — all of which can help protect cells from free-radical damage. The Fuyu is also a good source of dietary fiber, which the American Institute for Cancer Research and the American Cancer Society report can help protect against colon cancer and maintain a healthy bodyweight.
Though persimmons are available from September to December, November is their best month. Hachiya persimmons contain high levels of tannins before they ripen and must not be eaten until they are soft and ripe. Eat them too soon and they will take all the moisture from your mouth, which is not a pleasant experience. This is why the Italians leave them on the trees for so long. The Fuyu doesn’t have this problem; it is edible before being completely ripe.
When choosing persimmons look for a smooth, orange skin with red undertones. They should be plump, with no bruises, and should still have a circlet of green leaves at the stem end. Ripe persimmons should be eaten right away. If they are not ripe, placing them in a brown paper bag on your counter for a few days can accelerate the process.
Persimmons are quite sweet and can be used in place of strawberries in CFYL’s Super Simple Sorbet.Try making a persimmon glaze to top duck or other poultry, or prepare persimmon cookies, cake, and pudding for the holidays. Or just eat the fruit raw; cut away the stem and scoop out its delicious insides with a teaspoon. If you ever see them, Japanese whole dried persimmons are a rare fall treat — expensive, but worth it.