Like Fashion, certain fruits are also seasonal. Among them is the persimmon or pisang kaki which is in season from now until December. And it also named as “the fruit of the Gods” by the ancient Greeks, persimmon was originally cultivated in Chine, Japan and Vietnam before being introduced to America in the mid-19th century.
Bright orange when ripe, persimmon is a versatile fruit which can be eaten raw ir cooked. It eaten before it is fully ripened, the persimmon has a bitter, astringent taste due to high levels of tannins, the same polyphenols found in tea.
Persimmons like the Hachiya variety from Japan must be completely ripe before it is eaten. When ripe, the flash is a thick pulpy jelly encased in a waxy skinned shell. Another variety is Fuyu which is gaining popularity here as it is in Japan. Similar in color, but looking like a squashed tomato, this variety is smaller, sweeter and edible while still firm.
The texture of persimmon resembles a cross between a peach, plum and pumpkin. Experts say persimmons are not only high in fiber but are also an excellent source of vitamin A. The fruit has no fat but is rather high in carbohydrates and natural sugars.
In addition to the tannins, which give the immature fruit its astringent taste, persimmon contains two compounds – known as shiboul and betulinic acid – that are known to have anti-cancer properties.
A study conducted in Japan showed that the peel of the persimmon contains phytochemicals known as proanthocyanidins which may protect cells against oxidative damage associated with aging. However, consuming persimmon on an empty stomach, especially the unripe fruit, is not advisable. It is said that the soluble tannin shibuol, which upon contact with a weak acid, polymerises in the stomach and forms a gluey coagulum that can cause intestinal obstruction.
Tips on choosing and eating persimmons
When choosing persimmon, look for ones that have a deep red color without blemishes. Avoid those that are hard if you plan on eating them immediately.
Wash, remove core and slice or eat it whole. The persimmon can be substituted for grapes on a cheese tray. Just slice the fruit, add lime juice, salt and chili powder. You can even make persimmon salsa. Add chopped persimmon, onion, tomatillo, cilantro and chillies and mix together.
For breakfast with a twist, add chopped or blended Fuyu persimmons to your pancakes, waffles, and French toast. To have a nutritious colorful salad, mix cubed persimmons with grapes, pomegranate seeds, cubed apples and sliced kiwi fruit.