Persimmon’s native country is China, where it was nicknamed “Apple of the Orient“. From China, persimmon diffused into Japan, where it still plays a primary role in the Japanese cuisine, and then all over the world.
Persimmon (Diospyros—Greek for “fruit of the gods“) is really not a fruit, but a large, round, succulent berry, with a smooth, thin peel of variable color (from yellow to brilliant orange), depending on the degree of ripening. When the fruit is fully ripe, the pulp is soft, creamy and almost gelatinous.
A ripe persimmon tastes very sweet and has a “honey flavor”. Some parts of the flesh may turn brown but this is not because it has turned bad, but is actually the sugar in the fruit.
There are generally two types of persimmons—astringent and non-astringent. The astringent persimmon contains high level of tannin before softening, which makes the fruit inedible. Whereas the non-astringent persimmon loses the tannin sooner making the fruit edible even while firm.
The shape of the fruit varies from spherical to acorn to flattened or even squarish. The color varies from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red.
The size of a persimmon can vary from about the size of small orange to as big as a grapefruit, depending on the variety.
Persimmons are usually not juiced but are eaten on its own, like a mango, or pureed for making smoothies. They are highly fibrous, delicious and nutritious.
NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS OF PERSIMMON
Persimmon is an excellent source of a few known phytonutrients:
- cryptoxantin that gives it the brilliant orange color
- catechins, gallocatechins are antioxidants from the flavonoids family, known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties
- anti-tumor compound betulinic acid
- beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin are antioxidants that help neutralize free-radicals and prevent oxidation and cancer
Persimmon is rich in vitamins A, C and the B vitamins. In the minerals department, it is dense-packed with calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and copper.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PERSIMMON
Persimmon does have laxative and diuretic properties and is particularly recommended for people suffering from liver problems. It is also an energy-dense fruit. That’s why it is recommended for children, people playing sports and people who are physically or mentally tired.
Below are various therapeutic and healthy properties of this very sweet fruit:
Cold and flu: Thanks to its high content in vitamin C, persimmon is effective in enhancing the immune system function and can help relieve the symptoms of flu and cold, as well as many other infectious or inflammatory conditions.
Constipation: Due to its high content in fiber and water, persimmon does have excellent laxative properties that can be a powerful natural remedy for constipation.
Diuretic effect: Persimmon does have excellent diuretic properties, due to its potassium and calcium content. Eating a persimmon a day is an effective way to prevent or relieve water retention. Daily consumption of persimmon is better than the use of diuretic drugs, since persimmon does not cause potassium loss which is associated with many known diuretics.
High blood pressure: Helps reduce high blood pressure and prevent many heart conditions associated with hypertension.
Liver health and body detoxification: Persimmon is an excellent source of antioxidants which play a key role in liver health and body detoxification. Antioxidants help neutralize toxins and other harmful substances in the body, prevent and treat the damages caused by free-radicals.
Natural energizer: Persimmons are highly digestible fruits and also provide a lot of readily available energy (in the form of sugars) to sustain any energy-requiring activity.
Stress, tiredness and fatigue: Due to their high content in sugars and potassium, persimmon juice can help reinforce the body with energy and relieve the symptoms of stress, fatigue and tiredness without the need to use special energetic and nutritional supplements.
To check if persimmons are ripe, lightly depress the fruit. If it’s hard, it’s not yet ripe. Do not eat hard persimmons, unless you’re certain that you’ve got the non-astringent variety.
Fully ripe persimmons are soft to the touch, very sweet and creamy that they can be eaten as they are. Simply cut them into two halves, peel off the skin and eat the pulp. They can also be used to prepare delicious sauces, creams, jams, jellies and smoothies.
To speed up the ripening process, put persimmons out at room temperature. Storing them in the fridge will slow down the ripening process, keeping them for longer.
Due to its high content in sugars, persimmon is not recommended for people suffering from diabetes, obesity or overweight.
Dried persimmons have even higher sugar content because in its dried state, the sugars are more concentrated.