Glossy orange persimmons are sweet and delicious eaten out of hand, but they can also be used in savory dishes in place of tomatoes, pears or plums. There are two types of persimmons, astringent and nonastringent, commonly sold in the U.S. as Hachiya and Fuyu, respectively.
Unripe Hachiya persimmons are so tannic that they’re essentially inedible until the flesh ripens to a delectable, pudding-like consistency. Tomato-shaped Fuyu persimmons, on the other hand, are still firm when ripe, which makes them suitable for slicing.
Try persimmons in fall salads of bitter greens, nuts and cheeses; minced in a spicy salsa with pork tacos; or wrapped in thin-sliced cured meat for a quick appetizer. In desserts, substitute persimmon purée for any recipes that call for pumpkin or applesauce.
When pairing sweet wine with sweet food, what’s in the glass should generally be sweeter than what’s on the menu. Persimmons can be quite sweet, so they call for a rich, sweet wine like Tokaji Aszú. Its honeyed, floral and caramelized flavors are lovely with persimmons.
Ripe persimmons are high in residual tannins and low in acidity, so choose a soft wine like Arneis, primarily found in the Roero and Langhe regions of Piedmont, Italy. Oaked versions show rounded flavors of nuts, stone fruit and honey that would work nicely with persimmons’ low acidity.
For all their rich sweetness, persimmons also have subtle hints of baking spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice, all ideal matched with Gewürztraminer. Besides its trademark lychee flavor, the white often has notes of ginger, allspice and Mexican cinnamon that would echo the characteristics in persimmons.
Persimmons have a dense, concentrated flavor akin to tropical fruits like mango, papaya, sweetsop, custard apple and sapote. Warm-climate Sauvignon Blanc, like those from Napa, Australia or inland Chile, shows varied tropical flavors that would tease out the fruit’s complexity.