Dried Persimmons: A Sweet, Simple Holiday Snack!

Photography by Ryan Benoit

Around our house, persimmons — so sassy and festive, and with a sweet, naturally spiced flavor — are the fruit we associate most with the holidays. It started a few years ago when a friend gave us a bag of them from her family’s tree on Thanksgiving. It was the first time we’d ever tried persimmons, and we were hooked.

This year we dried them to eat on the go as a snack. The fruits were passengers in the maiden voyage of our new dehydrator, the Presto 06300 Dehydro, which we originally bought to preserve our guava before we decided to pickle them. This model (just over $35, and which purrs quietly compared to louder models) also makes a great gift for the DIY warrior in your life.

With national food wastage now in the headlines, we’ve been looking for more and more ways to extend the lives of our favorite seasonal crops.

Fuyu persimmons at the La Jolla Farmer's Market

Fuyu persimmons at the La Jolla Farmer’s Market.

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From left, three festive holiday fruits: pomegranate, fuyu persimmons and lemon guava.

You might have seen persimmons piled in orange and red mounds at your local farmer’s market. There are many varieties of persimmons, divided into two main types: astringent and non-astringent. Here in California, Fuyu and Hachiya (cultivars of Diospyros kaki, Japanese persimmon) are the most common varieties; Fuyu, a non-astringent persimmon, is light orange and squat like a tomato, and remains crisp when ripe. The Hachiya, on the other hand, is astringent, deep orangey-red and oblong, and isn’t ripe until it’s incredibly soft. Eating an unripe Hachiya is like biting into a chalk-flavored Sour Patch kid. (I did it and thought my taste buds would be deformed forever.)

And once upon a time, their seeds were used to predict the weather.

Attracted to the firm texture, we picked up a bunch of Fuyus to dehydrate. The result was phenomenal: The taste of the fresh fruits — like a cross between an apricot and a sweet potato, with notes of cinnamon — was intensified and became more caramel-y when dried.

Plus, the process is easy as pie.

Gather:

– The amount of ripe persimmons you want to dry. We used Fuyus; each fruit yields 4-6 slices.

– A dehydrator (we used the Presto 06300 Dehydro)

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Consult the directions on your own dehydrator. On our end we cut our fresh Fuyu persimmons into slices 1/4-inch to 3/8-inch thick, and excluded the calyces (the leaf-like sepals at top). We removed the seeds and any overripe sections, and arranged the slices in the dehydrator. We ran the dehydrator for eight hours (occasionally checking on texture; times may vary) and came out with dried, slightly chewy, flavorful slices.

Put them in a charming baggie tied with a ribbon, and the dried fruit makes a lovely stocking stuffer. And if you’re traveling this month, they provide great airport fuel.

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Want some persimmons to wash down your persimmons? Stay tuned for our next (drinkable) recipe!

—TH