It’s persimmon season in Japan and if you are new to the area, you may be wondering what this strange orange fruit is. You may have such thoughts especially if this is the first time you’ve encountered this fruit that sort of looks like an orange tomato. Let me fill you in on a bit of its origin and uses.
If you are from the Americas or Europe you may have encountered a different version of this fruit. The ones we see here in Japan are native to this country, but they are also native to China, Burma and Nepal. This original version of the fruit was introduced to the western US and Brazil and now there are several different types of persimmon native to Mexico, the Midwestern United States and the Philippines.
The persimmons I see most often in my region of Japan (Saitama) are typically eaten while they are still rather firm; however, there are two other types that can be found. One is eaten when it’s become soft on the inside and is very sweet. The other becomes brown on the inside and is sold in three different “flavors” at specialty markets or farmers markets. Those flavors are called “cinnamon,” “chocolate” and “brown sugar.”
When you first encounter a persimmon, whether in a supermarket or walking around viewing the heavily laden trees, you may wonder how you’re supposed to eat this fruit. I’ve seen my friends cut it up and eat just like you would an apple or orange, and I’ve seen it cut up and put in oatmeal as well. It can be cooked and I’ve found a number of recipes that use it to make cookies, jams, chutney and many different kinds of sweets. Check out all recipes if you’re interested in trying any of them.
Whether you eat them raw or throw them into a batch of cookies, don’t dismiss this strange orange fruit. It’s definitely something you should try while living in Japan and then perhaps if you fall in love with it, try the other varieties that are out there in the world.