I think I can safely say that before last year, I'd never eaten a persimmon. Yet, for some reason, I thought I knew what they tasted like, and I thought they were dreadfully sour. So when I tentativley took the tiniest bite of one of the bright orange, squatty little fruits I'd gotten from my E.A.T. South CSA share, my mind and mouth were fully expecting a tart shock. Instead, I tasted, well, nothing. I'd taken such a miniscule amount into my mouth that the actual flavor of this fall fruit couldn't even register. That's because, as I now know, persimmons have a faint, earthy sweetness akin to a papaya or mango. So I took a bigger bite, and it tasted good, but for just eating, it was a bit bland. There was no real "wow" factor. Persimmons need the company of some flavor-packed friends to coax out their subtle sweetness.
One of my favorite things to do with persimmons is to make a quick chutney/jam with some heat, some good vinegar and a hint of added sugar to give them a little pizzazz. It goes great with grilled sausage or roasted pork or any soft cheese. Heck, just spoon some over a block of ordinary cream cheese and serve with crackers or crusty bread, and you've got a fabulous snack that will satisfy your family's pre-Thanksgiving-feast munchies.
- 2 cups peeled and chopped persimmon
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 to 2 tablespoons finely chopped hot pepper (depending on how spicy you are!)
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 2 tablespoons honey-serrano vinegar* or balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
- Pinch salt
Peel and corse chop your persimmons. Finely chop the shallot and pepper. Add the fruits and veg and the rest of the ingredients to a medium saucepan with 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium heat until the persimmons soften and the flavors combine, about 5-7 minutes. If you like things chunky, you can leave the mixture as is. I prefer it a little smoother, so I used an immersion blender to puree it about halfway. This left a few pieces of fruit in a jammy base. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
*I got this magical elixir from The Vintage Olive in Montgomery, and you can probably find it or something similar at a specialty olive oil/vinegar shop in your area. You can also substitute balsamic vinegar. It will taste different but still really good.