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In China, where the plant originated, it’s called shizi; in Japan it’s known as kaki. The fruit was introduced to America and Europe in the 19th Century.
The persimmon is usually a vivid orange, but there’s a special Mexican version called “Black Sapote” whose pulp is black. It’s often served sliced and mixed with wine, cinnamon and sugar.
Chocolate and Cinnamon
The most precious version of persimmon fruit comes from Japan. Brown on the inside, they are known locally as “chocolate kaki” (Tsurunoko) or “cinnamon kaki” because of its spicy taste.
Means “Zeus’s grain”, and is the name of the persimmon plant, which is similar to the lotus.
Helps fruit to ripen, and a natural way to ripen a persimmon is to place it near to bananas, pears or apples – this helps accelerate the process.
If not completely ripe, a persimmon will leave a furry taste in your mouth, much like an artichoke.
This Japanese dessert is often served with tea. Made with rice or bean cream and dried persimmon, it’s similar to marzipan.
Many believe that the Lotus Eaters mentioned by Homer in the Odyssey, were actually eating persimmon fruit and not lotus flowers.
Persimmon have a detoxifying effect on the liver and provide both a diuretic and laxative effect.
In Taiwan, sour persimmon fruit is sealed into jars along with baking soda to make them sweeter.
It’s a popular fruit in Iran as well. The local name “Khormaloo” means “date-plum”. Persian cuisine features persimmon in both sweet and savory dishes. Legnasanta – In Naples, local lore tells that, by opening the fruit one can see the crucifix, which is why the fruit is also called legnasanta (or “holy wood”). The Spanish call it palosanto for the same reason.
Misilmeri & Mitchell
In Misilmeri, on the island of Sicily, persimmon is celebrated every autumn with a dedicated festival. A persimmon festival is also held in Mitchell, India during the same period.
It is told that the only things to survive the atomic bomb in 1945 were a few persimmon trees, which are also known as “trees of peace”.
It’s common for those living in the Ozark Mountains to use persimmon fruit to gauge the weather: local legend has it that one can tell if the winter will be mild or severs by the way the knife cuts through the fruit.
In the U.S., a popular holiday dessert is persimmon pudding; while commonly featured in sweets, it’s also used in salads and curries.
Chinese medicine believes that persimmon helps to regulate one’s Qi (or Ch’i) – our bodies’ internal energy.
When the fruit is mature, its pulp darkens and becomes softer. The best way to eat the fruit is by cutting it at each end and digging into it with a spoon, leaving the peel uneaten.
Sujeonggwa (or spicy punch)
One of the most popular fruit punches in Korea is made with persimmon, ginger and cinnamon. It’s often served very hot, alongside dessert.
Some persimmon have a very high tannin content, which can be disturbing to the palate. This can be avoided by letting the fruit ripen fully.
Be careful not to overeat unripe persimmon: the tannin content can cause gastric discomfort.
The Chinese call the persimmon tree the tree of “Seven Virtues”: it lives for a long time, provides shade, gives birds a place to build their nests, has beautiful leaves which turn color in the Fall, provides wood for heat and leaves for fertilizer.
Persimmon wood is not commonly found in furniture, but is used for making billiards and percussion instruments.
A traditional Christmas recipe from Switzerland: persimmon yogurt scented with vanilla is a light end to often heavy holiday meals.
The Chinese use persimmon fruit as a metaphor for human life: tasteless and bitter when too young, soft and sweet once mature.
The bright orange color comes from an abundance of carotene, and persimmon fruit also contains a high amount of Potassium and Zinc.