Posted by Tristan on:
It is often said that we can grow anything in Santa Barbara, which isn’t quite true. This time of year you will not find the three hundred varieties of apples they sell by the bushel in the farmers markets of Western New York. Nor do we grow other traditional autumn fruits we associate with the holidays like cranberries. Our zone-ten climate is just too worm for some fruits to thrive. The flip side is that come fall we have a bounty of more exotic produce such as guavas and pomegranates. I would also argue out harvest is more exciting; because when it comes down to it weather it is a Bailey Sweet, a Fall Pippin, or a Hunt Russet, its still an apple.
Yester day at the farmers market I picked up one of my favorite autumn treats, the often misunderstood persimmon. I know a great deal of people with an aversion to persimmons because they are unsure how and when to eat them, or have had the misfortune to eat one unripe. Under ripe persimmons are very tannic and astringent. Eating one is like packing your mouth with dry tea leaves. If you have only ever eaten a sub-prime persimmon you probably thought it unappealing and wondered why people buy them. A ripe persimmon however has a sweet taste akin to apricot with notes of autumn spice and some times vanilla. There are two varieties common to our Farmers Market: Fuyu, and Hachiya.
Fuyu persimmons are squat, resemble orange tomatoes and are less tannic. Eat them when the flesh feels soft and a little squishy. Hachiya persimmons are my favorite. They are more oblong than the fuyu. Because they are higher in tannins they must be really ripe before you eat them. Let them sit out till the point where you would think them rotten and toss them were they any other fruit. If it feels like a water balloon in your hand it is ready to eat. With both verities remove the top and peel, discard with any of the fibers that run through the core. Fuyu can be cut like a peach and served. Hachiya flesh will be gelatinous. It can be cubed and eaten with a fork or mashed in a bowl. I like to make cookies with Hachiya as well.
Below is a recipe for persimmon cookies I like to make for the holidays. Enjoy!
* 2 ripe Hachiya persimmons, mashed
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
* 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1 egg
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1/2 cup butter
* 1 cup chopped walnuts(optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
2. Dissolve baking soda in persimmon pulp and set aside.
3. Sift flour, spices and salt together, set aside.
4. Cream together butter or margarine and sugar until fluffy, beat in egg and persimmon. Stir in dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and raisins.
5. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.