Persimmon, an exotic fruit for one who has always lived in cold northern places, is a taste of tropical paradise and daydreams. The first time I ate a persimmon was when I moved to Ann Arbor after college and lived in a house with a communal kitchen. My husband, who was then just one of the house-mates, found a crate of almost rotting fruit behind a produce store. I was reluctant to taste trash, but everyone else seemed to be enjoying them. That was the best fruit I’d ever tasted. Astringent persimmons (Hachiya) are edible only when they are very soft. They were perfect!
Persimmons are not really tropical; they grow best in places with moderate winters and mild summers (USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10). I believe there used to be a persimmon tree growing in Ann Arbor! Most likely, it was a persimmon that is native to the eastern U.S.—Mitchell, Indiana even hosts a yearly persimmon festival!
The persimmon which originated in China, is a non-astringent variety; the most common cultivated variety is called Fuyu. It can be eaten, skin and all while it is still firm. Cultivation of the trees spread to other parts of east Asia—it’s a very popular fruit in Japan—then to the U.S. and southern Europe.
I couldn’t resist buying a couple of persimmons the other day. I decided to try another of my kanten (agar-agar) gelatin experiments.
I’m cooking only for myself while Mr. Tess is working in Florida, so I made only enough for 2 small servings. Because the astringent type of persimmon contains tannin, I thought that even though my fruit was perfectly ripe, I’d use green tea for flavor.
from my imagination to fruition
- 1 Hachiya persimmon, very soft and ripe
- 3/4 cup green tea
- 1/2 packet kanten powder (1/2 teaspoon)
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
(not having a sweet-tooth, I’d leave out the sugar in future.)
- drop of vanilla extract
- black current jelly for garnish
• Cut the persimmon into quarters and remove the pit and stringy parts from the center. I didn’t remove the skin, but if you want a smoother purée, you can pull it off. Slice and purée. I’m not sure if persimmons have the enzymes that prevent gelling, so I briefly heated the purée—I say briefly, because the color began to get lighter, and the texture was firming up almost like squash! I suspect the heating was not necessary.
• Heat the tea, and stir in the agar-agar (kanten) powder. When it dissolves, add the sugar and cook, stirring for 3 to 5 minutes. Cool, but not so much that it sets.
• Stir in the persimmon purée and a drop of vanilla. Mix gently.
• Prepare a mold (I used a couple of small plastic storage containers) by filling with water and tipping it out. •
Pour or spoon the gelée mixture into the molds and let them cool all the way to room temperature. Cover and chill in the fridge.
• Serve with a small spoonful of black current jelly.
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