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Virtually all Persimmons consumed in the United States come from California. Persimmons are in season from October through January peaking in late November. The California crop usually finishes up in mid to late December at which time we begin importing them from Israel where they are known as Sharon Fruit.
Persimmons are divided into two very distinct categories: astringent and non-astringent. Astringent varieties must be completely ripe before they can be eaten. Their astringency comes from the high level of tannins in the fruit. These tannins fade as the fruit ripens. When ripe the fruit will feel almost jelly-like and squishy to the touch. They are very soft and must be handled with care so as not to break the skin.
Hachiya: This is the most common astringent variety grown in the US. It is deep orange in color and its shape can best be described as acorn-like. An unripe Hachiya can be ripened at room temperature in about a week.
Fuyu: The Fuyu is the most common non-astringent variety sold in this country. It is vibrant orange to yellow in color with a shape that is round and flat making it easy to distinguish from the Hachiya. Unlike the Hachiya, this Persimmon can be eaten when it is still firm although some people prefer to let them soften somewhat. When firm they are crunchy and extremely sweet with a texture and flavor similar to an apple.
When purchasing Persimmons you should look for fruit that is free of cuts or cracks in the skin. Hachiyas will need to be ripened if they are still firm so keep that in mind as you plan your purchase. Fuyus should be firm to the touch. Interestingly enough Persimmons store best at either just above 32 degrees or at room temperature. Unripe, hard fruit left at room temperature will ripen in about a week. Once ripe they should be used in a few days.
Persimmons are rich in beta carotene and contain 70% of the RDA for vitamin A. They also contain 20% of the RDA for vitamin C and are a good source of dietary fiber. A six ounce serving contains just 130 calories.