Farm Focus: Persimmons

Farm Focus: Persimmons

We invite you to try a pesticide-free Hachiya or Fuyu persimmon, picked and delivered from local, family farms.

By Robbie Sigona

You know it’s November when you see those beautiful, bright orange globes of fruit suspended from bare tree branches around the Bay…that means persimmons are here! We’re pleased to bring you some of the best locally grown and pesticide-free Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons around. They come to us directly from two family farmers we’ve worked with for many years: Mr. Fujita of Morgan Hill (he’s Paul Sigona’s father-in-law) and California Clean Grower Paul Buxman of Dinuba.

Fuyu persimmons growing at Fujita Farms in Morgan Hill

As you may have learned from signs in our store, Certified California Clean fruits are grown with absolutely no organic or synthetic pesticides. Ever. The California Clean Growers Association is a certified farming system that protects the environment, supports small family farms and delivers extraordinary produce at an affordable price.  Paul and Ruth Buxman farm all their crops using California Clean techniques, and over the more than 15 years we’ve worked with their family, they consistently deliver some of the most gorgeous and high quality produce we carry.

John Sigona, Sr., or as we call him, Grandpa Sigona, grows some more unique varieties on his farm in Morgan Hill, such as the Chocolate Fuyu and the Giant Fuyu. We’re still waiting to hear about his crop for this year and hope to bring some in if possible. Grandpa Sigona, like other certified organic growers, has never used any types of sprays or non-organic fertilizers, but he chooses not to get organic certification.

As persimmons go, they have a flavor all their own. Some have said they taste a hint of cinnamon, brown sugar, pumpkin, plum and honey, while others described them as having a sweet-spicy flavor similar to a  blend of mango and papaya with a bit of apricot.

There are two popular varieties commercially available – the Fuyu and the Hachiya – and it’s important you know the difference. Why? Well, if you bite into an unripe Hachiya you’ll probably never eat a persimmon again.

It’s easy to tell the difference between a Fuyu and a Hachiya: the Fuyu is yellow-orange (which changes to a brighter orange at the peak of the season) firm, squat and rounded. The Hachiya is darker orange, heart shaped with a pointed end and, when ripe, is soft to the touch. An unripe (or firm) Hachiya has a powerful astringent flavor that is very bitter, almost chalky.

You’ll love the sweet flavor and crisp texture of the ready-to-eat Fuyu persimmon. The Fuyu can be eaten out of hand like an apple or pear, and there is no need to peel them. The texture of Fuyus allows them to be used similarly to apples and pears, such as in a salad or cobbler, and they’re sturdy enough to be used in stir-fries as well. Fuyus do not darken when cut, so they can be sliced and made part of a vegetable or fruit tray.

Hachiyas, by contrast, are soft and squishy when ripe — think of a how a water balloon feels when you gently squeeze it – that’s similar to how a Hachiya should feel when perfectly ripe. Eating one is really more of a sloppy endeavor. Ripe Hachiyas are generally used in baking or as a sweet, versatile sauce. For example, their sweet pulp can be pureed and spooned over ice cream, baked into puddings or bread, or blended into smoothies. You can find simple, healthy & delicious recipes for both Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons here on our blog.

A little persimmon trivia:
Persimmon origins have been traced back to Asia, specifically ancient China. They are said to have been introduced to the United States by a in the 1880s when a U.S. Commander brought a native Japanese persimmon variety to Washington, D.C. Persimmons now grow primarily in China, Brazil and Korea, and the majority of the domestic U.S. crops are grown in California. These unique, orange and red skinned fruits are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, and rich in fiber and potassium Also, they’re almost fat free!

Persimmon season typically starts mid-October and extends through December, depending on weather conditions, so be sure to get a taste of them before it’s too late! Both Mr. Fujita and Paul Buxman have grown wonderful crops this year, and you won’t find pesticide-free persimmons like what we have anywhere else (and certainly not at this price!).

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