|My favorite persimmon.|
I can’t say that I’m a huge fan of persimmons. If you’ve ever tried to eat an unripe “astringent” persimmon you’ll find that the tannins make it virtually impossible to choke one down. It tastes “furry” on the tongue and is truly horrible on the palate. Most or all of this astringency will dissipate as the fruit reaches full ripeness, but by that point most persimmon varieties turn translucent and gelatinous. I can’t say I’ve ever been a real fan of this jelly-like texture, and the flavor of persimmons can best be described as “acquired”.
The vaguely apple-shaped Hachiya persimmon is highly astringent and is only palatable in the super-ripe, gelatinous phase. The flatter, tomato-shaped Fuyu persimmon is much lower in tannins but can still be surprisingly rough on the tongue. I’ve heard that exposure to direct sunlight will erode the tannins, but I’ve not tested this theory. Since I found the cinnamon persimmon, I’m unlikely to eat any other kind.
The cinnamon persimmon is also called a Hyakume, and it’s got a pale yellow-orange hue with brown, “cinnamon”-colored speckles. They are prepared for sale by exposing the fruit to alcohol fumes (yep, they get ’em tipsy), which apparently reduces the tannins to virtually nothing.
Well, however they do it, the flavor is phenomenal! It’s like a cross between a mild mango and a crunchy, sweet pear. The flavor is subtle, the texture pleasant.
I usually like them as-is, but I’ve made a nice winter salad out of thin slices of cinnamon persimmon with some watercress, Belgian endive, and shaved pecorino. Lightly dressed with some champagne vinaigrette and topped with some crispy pancetta, you’ve got a killer little starter.