Can all types and varieties of persimmons be differentiated when there are thousands of them? Only the great experts are able to appreciate the subtle nuances and differences that each and every one presents.
In general, it can be said that they are divided into two large groups: astringent and non-astringent. Although the varieties in each of them are very numerous. For all those who have not delved or still do not know this delicious fruit, we have more details below.
Persimmon, also known as rosewood or persimmon , is a tropical fruit of the Ebenaceae family. This name designates a small variety of trees that produce the fruit. Etymologically, the name of persimmon comes from the Japanese kaki which means ‘fruit of divine fire’.
It is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries and you can find more than 2000 types and varieties of persimmons. From there it was introduced in Korea and Japan, making it later in California. Today it is a fruit consumed in many countries around the world .
They can be eaten raw, cooked or dried. In fact, all over the planet there are preparations with this fruit: puddings, cakes, jams, jellies or drinks. Apart from a delicate and sweet flavor, they provide a large amount of beneficial nutrients.
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The tree that produces persimmons or palo santos belongs to the genus Diospyros. Within this great group there are several species; the most frequent are Asian and Japanese. Although many of them bear fruits that are not edible for humans , the most frequent and that can be eaten are the following.
Chinese persimmon ( Diospyros kaki )
At a commercial level it is the most important of the three species that stand out. Native of the same country that gives it its name, Japan and Korea. Its fruits are usually sweet, with a spicy touch. The texture is smooth, but sometimes a bit stringy. They can be eaten when they are crisp, although they gain flavor with standing and become softer.
Japanese persimmon ( Diospyros lotus )
Commonly known as wild persimmon , it is native to Southwest Asia and Southeast Europe. It has been cultivated since ancient times and in the time of the Greeks it was known as a sweet of nature or fruit of the gods . The type of fruit it offers is rather small and its flavor is reminiscent of plums and dates.
Virginia persimmon ( Diospyros virginiana )
This species grows almost wild in the eastern half of the United States, but is also cultivated for its fruits and as an ornamental tree. It produces a fruit with a more oval shape and a paler color that can become bluish when ripe.
In the south and midwest of the United States it is abundantly found in the markets. It is widely used for culinary purposes in syrups, cakes or puddings.
In addition to differentiating them according to the species to which they belong, the different types of persimmons can be classified into two other general categories. Some are those that bear astringent fruits and others those that do not . Within these groups there are many different ones, depending on the type of pollination.
These fruits fully ripen on the tree and, after harvest, some type of treatment is required to remove the astringency . This is due to the presence of tannins which, in turn, are responsible for giving the fruit a rougher texture and a bitter taste. Some of the most common are the following:
- Eureka : from a smaller tree that withstands dry and cold climates very well. It has a high productivity.
- Hachiya – This one is large in size and also produces a good amount of fruit. Specifically, they are characteristic for having a conical shape and a strong strong orange color. It is one of the most astringent and when you can eat its meat it has a consistency similar to a pudding.
- Bright red: it comes from a unique variety that is grown in the Valencian Community in Spain. It has a delicate skin and a slightly harder pulp than the rest.
- Koushu-Hyakume – This is the most commonly used for drying.
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Non-astringent types of persimmons
All persimmons belonging to this species can be consumed once they are collected, as they do not require any further treatment. They are collected in late fall and during winter. Its flavor is sweeter than the previous ones:
- Fuyu : its fruits are bright orange on the outside and slightly paler on the inside. Its pulp is compact and crunchy and may be reminiscent of fuji-type apples.
- Honan red : very similar to the previous ones. The main difference is marked by their own name, since they have an orange tone much closer to red. Its flavor, on the other hand, is sweeter than fuyu.
- Jiro : with yellow fruits and with an outstanding sweetness. It can be collected in early autumn.
- Sharon: of Israeli origin, it is specifically a registered trademark that bears the name of the valley where it is grown. It comes from a cross of different varieties to which the astringency is chemically eliminated. It usually presents a softer fruit with little flavor that can be eaten hard.
The consumption of fruits is very positive for health. In the specific case of persimmons, its contribution in some nutrients such as dietary fiber, magnesium, iron, zinc or vitamins C and A.
In addition, it is a source of some phytonutrients not so well known, such as tannins, carotenoids and flavonoids. Thanks to them, the following positive effects on health can be mentioned:
- They protect eyesight and promote the proper functioning of the immune system due to the presence of vitamin A.
- They are allies of diets to lose weight, as they are light and have a lot of fiber .
- They help prevent atherosclerosis and lower blood cholesterol.
- They have a great inactivating capacity for all types of viruses.
Consuming this fruit is an excellent choice for a healthy diet. Although it has a marked sweet taste, it goes well with salty ingredients. For this reason, it can be added to all kinds of recipes: fruit salads, smoothies, mueslis, salads, with toast and cheese.
Although there are thousands of local varieties, only a few are regularly marketed. You can browse and do research in small local markets to find less popular species and play with the different flavors and textures.
Its season is very short and the best months are from October to December . For proper conservation it is recommended to keep them in the fridge and handle them little. They may have blemishes on the skin, but this is not an indicator of poorer quality or damage.
All types of astringent persimmons must be eaten when they are ripe. This often means that the pulp is juicy and mushy, so you can use a spoon or reserve it for cooking. In contrast, the less astringent varieties (fuyu or sharon) are crunchy like apples.