Cultivated in China for centuries, the persimmon made its way to Korea and Japan before being introduced to California in the mid-1800s. Varying in color from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red, this sweet, slightly tart fruit has many varieties. But you’re likely to find two main types in the grocery aisle: the fuyu, with a squat shape and flat bottom that is best eaten when firm, like an apple; and the hachiya, which is shaped like an elongated tomato with a pointed bottom and best when eaten fully ripe and soft.
Persimmons are often used in salads and desserts and are cholesterol- and fat-free. One medium-sized raw persimmon has 118 calories and is a good source of vitamins C and A -- 21% and 55% of the RDA, respectively -- as well as dietary fiber.
Persimmon Breakfast Cake Recipe
Makes 12 servings
1 1/2 cups of ripe hachiya persimmon pulp (about 4 medium)
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cups low-fat buttermilk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)
Powdered sugar (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Slice persimmons and scoop out pulp; puree pulp until smooth. Place pulp in bowl and gradually whisk in sugar, eggs, and buttermilk. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, spices, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Gradually add pulp mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to blend. Allow batter to rest for 10 minutes to thicken. Pour batter into 9" cake pan coated with cooking spray. Top batter with chopped nuts. Bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours or until toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Cool and dust lightly with powdered sugar.
Andrea Gabrick is a Washington, D.C.-based writer and editor.