At this time of year there was always much excitement in my house when I was a child. The start of autumn was the time of year when mum’s favourite fruit – the persimmon – came into season. I’ve seen some recent figures that show the fruit is more widely available now than back then. Then in suburban Sydney, the persimmon was a rare (and expensive) find. As children, my brother and I, eagerly sought to please mum by announcing the first find of the season. The original persimmon was a delicacy that was savoured. Often it was only a single fruit that could be obtained (or could be afforded). The precious fruit would be left on the window sill of the sunroom to ripen until so very soft, then mum would slowly scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon, savouring each small bite. Her treat was never shared.
Sorry for getting so up close and personal, but the luscious fruit means a lot to me. A lovely ripe persimmon was the last present I took to mum in hospital. I never did get her to eat them any way but ‘straight’ but whether you enjoy the fruit straight up, or whether you’ve never tried them before, I know you’re going to like this recipe. Give it a try!
Persimmon and watercress salad with gorgonzola and toasted walnuts
2 sweet persimmons, cut in half and sliced
1 bunch of watercress
100g of gorgonzola or other mild blue cheese
6 tablespoons walnut oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
Place walnuts onto a baking tray and toast under the grill, turning occasionally. Once walnuts are evenly toasted set aside. Wash watercress, discard the bottoms of the stokes and place in a colander to drain. Wash and slice the persimmons, cut each half into four to six slices.
To serve, place the watercress into a salad bowl, top with persimmons, crumbled gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. Drizzle with oil and vinegar, then season with salt and pepper to taste.
“Persimmons are considered a delicacy in my family and I always relish the moment when the season comes around,” Poh Ling Yeow (presenter of ABC TV’s Poh’s Kitchen, best-selling author and first runner up of the 2009 Australian Masterchef series) said. “I grew up eating the sweet variety and only discovered original persimmons when I came to Australia from Malaysia in 1982.”
“The two persimmon varieties, sweet and original, are often confused as one but they really do differ in taste, texture and appearance. Sweet persimmons are round and stout with a slightly flattened top like a tomato and can be eaten like a crunchy apple but the original kind is a larger, more elongated, heart-shaped fruit and eaten only when it is completely ripe and the flesh is soft and jelly-like,” she said.
Poh said despite treasuring the fruit since she was a child, persimmons are still largely unknown in Australia.
“Both varieties of persimmons have such a beautiful, unique flavour that forever eludes me to describe, so people just need to be adventurous and try one,” she said.
Poh believes one of the best ways to eat the sweet variety is when they’re crunchy and fresh, peeled and quartered.
“Persimmons are very versatile in the kitchen and their unassuming sweetness marries brilliantly with flavours like smoked poultry, cured meats, cheese, nuts and bitter salad leaves. They also go very well in South-east Asian style salads, as the ‘sweet’ element, together with hot, sour and salty,” she said.
“My favourite autumn recipe involves mixing the pureed, gooey fruit from an original persimmon through muffin or cake batter for a delicious flavour combination,” she said.
If you’d rather something sweet there is also a dessert recipe for Lime poached persimmons with white chocolate mousse on Inside Cuisine.
Australian Persimmons Recipes are provided on Inside Cuisine by courtesy of Persimmons Australia Inc.