Hachiya Persimmons

| December 13, 2008 | 27 Comments
  • 27 Comments

hachiya persimmons

About a month ago, I wrote about Fuyu persimmons, which are one of my favorite fall fruits. This week, I’d like to extol the virtues of the Hachiya persimmon. Hachiyas are the misunderstood fruit of winter: although they are sweet and wonderful when baked into cakes and puddings, many people are afraid to eat them because they are truly awful when immature. A firm Hachiya is extraordinarily astringent and inedible. I admit that taking a bite out of one is sort of like eating an unripe bitter walnut while suddenly having all the moisture sucked out of your cheeks and tongue. But there’s a very simple way to avoid this: don’t eat Hachiyas until they’re ripe.

Like Fuyus, Hachiyas range in color from light orange to a reddish sunset. They are easy to distinguish from Fuyus, however, because while the Fuyu looks like an orange tomato, the Hachiya is shaped like a large acorn. Hachiyas are lovely in both appearance and taste, just not at the same time. While they are outwardly attractive when unripe, they only become gastronomically appealing once the skin mottles and starts to shrivel over the soft ripened fruit. Yet while Hachiyas may not be pretty when they’re ready to be eaten, they are luscious when added to cakes and steamed puddings.

ripe hachiya persimmon

Before you eat a Hachiya, make sure it is soft and squishy as you need to wait for the fruit’s tannins to break down before the pulp loses its astringency and takes on a sweet and sugary flavor. The mature fruit has a jellylike texture, which may make them seem unappealing as a raw snack, but shouldn’t stop you from cooking with them. To coax Hachiyas into ripening, just set them out on your counter or window sill for a few days to over a week, depending on how firm they are. If you’re in a hurry, you can freeze a partially ripe Hachiya for at least 24 hours and then defrost it, which helps soften and sweeten the fruit. I tried this once and it worked okay, although the taste wasn’t as sweet as a naturally-ripened persimmon.

You can buy Hachiyas at the farmer’s market or grocery store during the fall and early winter, but as they grow in abundance in the Bay Area, you may be able to get them for free if you know someone with a tree. In my neighborhood, there are at least ten trees within a four-block radius of my house. For years, most of the fruit from these trees was left to rot each December on the ground. I always wanted to stop and ask the people who lived in these houses if I could have a few, but usually I had two toddling twins running ahead of me and so always put it off for another day. But this all changed a few years back when my neighbor George started knocking on doors and asking people if he could collect their fallen fruit. George is in his late 70s, has a big smile for everyone, and loves to chat. How could anyone refuse him? Luckily George also knows that I love persimmons (from all that chatting we’ve done over the years), so each December he now gives me persimmons by the bagful, and I, in turn, give him persimmon cake.

I came up with my Hachiya persimmon cake recipe as a way to use up all those lovely persimmons George leaves on my doorstep. If you’d like to try the sweet, nuanced flavor of Hachiya persimmons, this might be a good recipe to try because it’s fast and easy. Although the recipe calls for some fresh orange juice and brandy or cognac — all of which nicely accent the persimmons’ sweet flavor — you can leave them out if you don’t have them on hand. Just be sure to add in a teaspoon of vanilla if you leave out the orange juice.

So here’s to the Hachiya persimmon: a fruit that is lovely both inside and out.

Persimmon Cake with a Citrus Glaze

Makes: One 9 x 13-inch cake

Ingredients:

Cake:
1 1/4 cups Hachiya persimmon pulp
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup softened butter
2 eggs
1 cup sugar
2 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp brandy or cognac
3/4 cup raisins or currants
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp orange juice
2 tsp lemon juice

Preparation:
1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
2. Remove skin from persimmons and seed the fruit. Blend the pulp in a food processor or blender and set aside.
3. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger in a large bowl and set aside.
4. Blend the sugar into the butter until creamy.
5. Add the eggs, orange juice and cognac to the butter mixture and beat until fully incorporated.
6. Blend in the persimmon puree.
7. Add the flour to the butter and persimmon mixture.
8. Add the raisins and nuts and mix until just barely incorporated. Don’t overmix, however, as this will make your cake rubbery.
9. Grease a 9×13 pan and then spread the batter inside.
10. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
11. To make the icing, mix the powdered sugar, orange juice and lemon juice in a bowl until you have a thick syrupy consistency. Add more lemon or orange juice if you need to thin it a bit more.
12. Spread the icing on top of the warm cake.
13. Cool and serve.

Related

Explore: , , ,

Category: baking and bakeries, dessert and chocolate, recipes

About the Author ()

I am a writer, editor, mother of twins, and enthusiastic home cook. I was raised by an Italian-American mother who, in the 1970s, grew her own basil (because she couldn’t find any in the local grocery stores), zucchini (for those delicious flowers), and tomatoes (because the ones in the store tasted like “a potato”). My mom taught us to love all kinds of food and revere high-quality ingredients. I am now trying to follow in my mother’s footsteps and am on a mission to help my daughters become adventurous eaters who have a healthy respect for seasonal food raised locally. My daughters and I grow vegetables and go to the farmers’ market. We also love to shop at Piedmont Grocery and Trader Joe’s. When I’m not hanging out with my daughters or cooking, I like to contribute to cookbooks (including Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast and Foods of the World series), work as an editor, and write about food for Bay Area Bites and Denise's Kitchen. My food inspirations are M.F.K Fisher, Julia Child, and Alice Waters — three fabulous women who encompass everything I love about food.
  • Annie

    We have a persimmon tree, but are not persimmon lovers. Our Dalmatian Sam was a huge persimmon lover, and would eat any persimmon that fell to the ground. If none were availablie, he would stand on his hind legs to pick low hanging ones from the tree. Since he passed on, we’ve found our new dog couldn’t care less. For the last couple of years I have put them out in front of our house several times a week for a few weeks with some bags and a “FREE!” sign. They are usually gone within hours and we get some delicious bread or cake in return. I would definitely encourage everyone to share their excess bounty of fruits and vegetables, as generosity begets generosity. You never know when you might get a bag of Myer lemons in return.

  • Richard

    We have a large Hachiya persimmon tree. With a little effort we can turn the persimmons into a very popular treat. We cut the persimmons into thin slices and dry them in a dehydrator. The fruit should be close to fully ripe but the drying will eliminate much of the astringency. People who dislike persimmons often love the dried fruit. Moreover, the dried circles are very attractive.

  • Karma Tenzing Wangchuk

    Persimmons are very popular in Haikuland. One of the most famous Japanese haiku poets is well known for his love of persimmons–Masaoka Shiki (1867-1902). Here’s a link to some haiku-and-persimmon information–

    http://profiles.yahoo.com/blog/UIRQM5IECA6Q7RJT3HZ56RGHLU?eid=VBXtMspkyS.7pXbhzhgJq7D4zISu49EDhew99VlwVqxyWETiUg

    Myself, I prefer my hachiya eaten while leaning over a plate or sink, eating the fruit from its bottom down to the stem area, with a paper towel nearby to wipe my hands and chin. Persimmon cookies and cakes are fine, but the fruit by itself is a kind of heaven.

    Two hachiya are now in a paper bag a couple feet away from my keyboard. One’s pretty soft, but I know from long experience it’s got a long way to go before it’s ready, maybe 2 days. My finger-test is to check and make sure the persimmon’s soft even where the skin meets the stem. Sometimes I can’t wait that long, and the last bite or two is a little harsh :)

    reading Shiki–
    suddenly the smell
    of ripe persimmons

  • Alvaro Menendez

    Dear Sirs:
    Where can I buy Hachiya persimmon seeds?
    Thanks a lot for your assistance.

    Alvaro Menendez

  • http://deniseskitchen.wordpress.com/ Denise Santoro Lincoln

    I’ve never seen Hachiya persimmon seeds for sale, but would think you could start your own seedlings if you use the seeds from fresh persimmons. You could also try a seed catalog.

  • Annelie Brinkman

    I just learned that I can dehydrate Hachiya persimmons before they are soft and ripe and they will be sweet and delicious as a dried snack. They seem to lose all astringency during the dehydrating process.

  • Renee Held

    Thanks everyone for your ideas on this fruit..my local Wal-mart had these only they were labeld Hachiya..and I had no clue what they were..until I searched the Internet..all these ideas will be helpful for me to actually enjoy eating this tasty treat..plus in reading about this fruit..it has all kinds of good nutritional value!
    Isn’t the Internet wonderful..where would all this information be gotten and from all different places without it!

  • Denise Pickering

    My family and I keep picking our hachiya persimmons but usually end up throwing them away. None of us eat them. But someone once told me they were expensive in the store. I was wondering if anyone knew how much they actually go for cause I can’t find a store that carries them.

  • Renee Held

    Hi Denise..I paid $1 each at Wal-mart…I have them a box to ripen..I am glad I read this article before I bit into mine! They had 2 types The hachiya and another style..Another grocery story had this other style in stock too..but not the hachiya one.

  • edward church

    well I got these hachiya fruit from MaXI SUPPER market where I live in Quebec.the day before and they are orange but I will wait until there really soft. but as I been reading they taste good once you give the fruit a chance to ripen more. here I live in Quebec I think I will save the seeds to grow one where the patio is where there was a dead tree that no longer is there so I will take the seeds and dry them and then put them in a plant pot and start to grow them and grow it until its about a foot then plant it. I see most people who has them don’t use them much like others who make apple pie. but I will try start this one and grow it. I did not know what this fruit was about my wife saw it one of her cook books so I wanted to look it up and found this on google.

  • Jo Magennis

    Denise, I just paid $1.00 for 5 persimmons at a Publix grocery in Florida. Jo

  • Valina

    Hi Denise,

    I wish you live near me. I would love to take all the Hachiya persimmons that you are throwing away. I live in NYC and the Hachiya are expensive. I buy them from fruit peddlers in the street around this time every year. The peddlers are selling the Hachiya cheaper than in the stores. This year it costs $5 for 4 fruits. It’s an annual treat for me and I usually buy them until the supplies runs out in a couple of weeks.

  • http://deniseskitchen.wordpress.com/ Denise Santoro Lincoln

    Hi Valina — Too bad you’re not here as my neighbor George has boxes of them that he’s collected around the neighborhood. Then again, your pizza is better, and in the end, that’s more important :-)

  • Renee Held

    I wonder if the 5 for $1 persimmons are the Hachiya or the Fuyus persimmons..??
    George..I am curious..do you think the persimmon plant/tree will make it over the winters in Canada?

  • Jo

    Renee, both were on sale at 5 for $1.00. We ate the Fuyu’s yesterday and they were excellent. My cousin was visiting and it was the first time she had eaten one. Today we made some fruit smoothies with the Fuyu, starfruit, kiwi and banana – Yum ;-) I’m not sure what to make with the Hachiya. Search the net and found lots of cookies and breads, but I’m not a baker, LOL. I wonder it they too will work in a smoothie???

  • http://deniseskitchen.wordpress.com/ Denise Santoro Lincoln

    Hi Jo and Renee — I list a cake recipe above. My kids and husband really love this recipe. It’s like a spiced coffee cake with a citrus glaze. There are also some great Hachiya persimmon cookie recipes out there. Enjoy those persimmons!

  • Renee Held

    Hi Jo..what a deal on those persimmons!! I bought my hachiya a couple of weeks ago..and let it ripen at home…I ate it today..I think these would make a wonderful ingredient in a smoothy..
    I have never eaten a persimmon before..so this was a new experience..I can’t really describe the taste..but it was good!!

  • Renee Held

    Actually, I ate the persimmon by cutting it into sections..and ate it raw! yummy!

  • Ellie

    Hi, does someone know how to handle these bruised hachiya. top part is spoil and the rest part is not ripe.

    thanks!

  • http://deniseskitchen.wordpress.com/ Denise Santoro Lincoln

    Hi Ellie — if the non-spoiled part is mostly ripe you can just cut off the spoiled part and then put the rest in a baggy and freeze, which should take away some of the astringent flavor. Once it’s frozen through you can defrost to use, but be sure to taste to make sure the astringency is gone before using.

    If the nonspoiled part is not mostly ripe, however, I think you’ll need to toss it out.

  • Ellie

    Hi Denise,

    Thank you for your valuable information. I tossed some out and frozen some as well. I will check if these frozen ones are useful and let you know.

    Happy New Year!

  • http://na Harry Okamoto

    Thoroughly enjoyed your article on hachiya persimmons. My new hobby in the past 2 years has been to dry them, in the old fashioned Japanese style. With the ones that I don’t dry, I was thinking of recipes such as yours. I also have a fuyu type persimmon tree and am wondering if, this type (fuyu) can be used in place of the hachiya. Would appreciate your comments, thanks.

    Harry

  • http://deniseskitchen.wordpress.com/ Denise Santoro Lincoln

    Hi Harry — It seems like a few people who commented above also dry them. I wish I had a dehydrator so I could do the same. Sounds wonderful.

    I’m jealous that you have a Fuyu tree. They’re one of my favorite fruits. That said, I wouldn’t use them in place of Hachiyas as the consistency is so different. I actually wrote about Fuyus if you want some recipes or would like more information about them. Here are the links!

    http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2008/11/06/fuyu-persimmons/

    http://blogs.kqed.org/bayareabites/2009/11/05/fuyu-redux-fuyu-and-date-upside-down-cake/

  • Andrea

    We just received a couple of haychia persimmons through a food co-op and have no idea what to do with them! While exploring our options on the internet i came across the recipe above, everyone’s comments have made me excited to have this new experience! What I need to know is if the fruit must be ripe for the recipe above or can it be used for baking purposes before ripeness?? Thanks!

  • http://deniseskitchen.wordpress.com/ Denise Santoro Lincoln

    Hi Andrea — Definitely make sure the fruit is ripe before using as it is so astringent your dish may be inedible if you use unripe fruit. If a persimmon is *mostly* ripe you can freeze it and then thaw. Here’s an excerpt from above about this: “If you’re in a hurry, you can freeze a partially ripe Hachiya for at least 24 hours and then defrost it, which helps soften and sweeten the fruit. I tried this once and it worked okay, although the taste wasn’t as sweet as a naturally-ripened persimmon.” Good luck!

  • Joan

    I have a neighbor who has a tree and each year his tree is so loaded he distributes grocery bags of Hachiya persimmons to whoever will take them. I have collected recipes for them and am adding this one to my repertoire. Steamed pudding is the classic use, but I also have a cookie recipe.

  • Jesse Mazet

    Fully ripe hachiyas can be spread onto fruit leather inserts for your dehydrator and dehydrated into luscious sweet persimmon fruit leather sheets that can then be rolled up and eaten or sliced into pieces for recipes.