cooking melbourne

Discovering Melbourne's Artisan Foods and Produce

persimmons

Astringent Persimmons

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Persimmons you are likely to find in supermarkets and green grocers are the  sweet, non-astringent variety which can be eaten when still firm and crunchy or when softened. In contrast, astringent persimmons must be eaten when fully mature, the skin translucent and the flesh lusciously soft like a very ripe mango. Eaten before that the fruit is unpleasantly astringent.  Naming them astringent is unfair, a bit like labelling a great cabernet acidic or tannic because it starts out that way.  Like most things that are really tasty and a bit awkward these don’t fit the transport needs of the commercial food chain, so have been replaced by the firm variety; which I have never really been enthusiastic about.   Astringent persimmons are still grown in backyards and are a magnificent looking tree when the leaves have fallen and the golden orbs of fruit are left hanging like miniature glowing lanterns.  If you are lucky enough to have a tree you don’t have to leave the fruit to completely mature on the tree and then be sacrificed to birds. Cut small branches of fruit with secateurs and lay them on a flat dish. Arranged artfully, they make a great Autumn table display, reminiscent of a Peter Greenaway film. Pick off the fruit as each becomes very soft over several weeks. They never seem to ripen all at once but you can collect the pulp and freeze it if you want to make something.  They are delicious raw but when cooked seem to lose their delicate flavour, so eat them fresh, blitz the pulp with icing sugar and lime juice for a luscious sauce, or use it to make a stunning sorbet. I found some of these astringent persimmons at the Collingwood Farmers Market, so ask at fruit stalls, now is the time.

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cooking melbourne • May 11, 2015


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