Could a persimmon a day keep the doctor away? Growing in popularity and fast replacing “the apple a day” theory is the Persimmon with its considerable health benefits and medicinal properties. The Persimmon is a fruit that supports cardiovascular health and is useful for people suffering with disorders such as high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. Additionally they have been known to improve lung function, reduce internal bleeding, dissolve blood clots and phlegm, and nourish a weakened digestive system.
Packed with minerals, nutrients, antioxidants and Vitamins A and C, Persimmons are also a rich source of fiber and potassium. This ancient fruit has been an important part of traditional Chinese medicine for thousands of years and today many people use it as a home remedy. They can relieve hiccups, persistent coughs, constipation, hangovers, and hemorrhoids. Although the peel is not eaten, if applied to the face, Persimmon peel can be used as a beauty aid to brighten the complexion. Symbolically, Persimmons represent eternal life, good fortune, and fertility and are often given as gifts to newlyweds.
Categorized as a true berry, this exotic little “fruit of the gods” is a luscious, thirst-quenching tree-grown fruit that varies in shape, size and color, and is revered as a delicacy in many parts of the world. Originally from China, the world’s largest producer, Persimmons are also native to Korea, Brazil and Japan. They are grown around the globe in warmer climates and domestically can be found in various areas of the U.S. with California producing the largest crop.
While there are several varieties of Persimmons, commercially the most common types are the astringent and non-astringent. The heart-shaped “Hachiya” is the best known variety of an astringent persimmon. It contains very high levels of tannins and is extremely bitter if eaten before ripened. The tomato-shaped “Fuyu” is a “non-astringent” Persimmon, and not completely free of tannins but is far less astringent than the Hachiya.
This jewel of the Fall season is available from September to November and best eaten when fully ripened. Soft-ripe Persimmons have an exceptional flavor, and while they are high in carbohydrates and sugar, they are low in calories. Persimmons are enjoyed fresh, cooked, raw and dried. To prepare and eat as a snack, the top is sliced off, the skin is peeled back and the fruit is cut into quarters or eaten whole like an apple; avoiding the seeds and the core. The sweet, rich-tasting flesh ranges from firm to a mushy, plum or date-like consistency. When firm, the texture is much like that of an apple but most prefer mushy because the mushier the Persimmon, the sweeter the taste.
Because of their flavorful versatility, Persimmons can be used in breads and muffins and a variety of desserts such as cookies, cakes, custards, puddings and pies; in punch, smoothies, and salads or as a topping on hot and cold cereals. The benefits from Persimmons are endless. Although Persimmons may be tastier and healthier than apples, there is a trade-off. They should not be eaten with certain foods, especially crabmeat, or on an empty stomach, particularly those who are sensitive in that area, and excessive consumption can induce Diarrhea. It is always recommended that you brush your teeth after eating Persimmons, as with any fruit containing tannic acid and sugar to avoid damage to the enamel. Remember, anything that is good for you is good in moderation!