Fooding around with Jenny Morris: Persi who?

Fooding around with Jenny Morris: Persi who?
Jenny Morris

Fooding Around with Jenny Morris

Persimmons are the edible fruit of a number of species of trees in the genus Diospyros. Diospyros is in the family Ebenaceae, and certain species of Diospyros are the sources of most kinds of ebony wood, and not all species bear edible fruit.

The persimmon is a fruit of Chinese origin. Originally cultivated in both Japan and China for centuries, this fruit is now grown in Italy and other Mediterranean countries, the Middle East the USA and lucky for us in South Africa as well, in fact right here in the Cape; I discovered them growing at Allee Bleue. Always choose a ripe persimmon with a nice smooth skin and overall orange colouring. This is the best time to eat them. If they aren’t ripe then they can be very bitter, astringent and will make your whole body pucker up – a seriously yucky affair.

Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked. I consumed kilos of dried persimmons while I was in China. They are sticky, sweet and chewy. I also like to peel the raw fruits and eat them like an apple. Put them into your fruit salad and watch the reaction on the faces of your friends and family – it is sure to bring a smile to their lips.

They are sweet and beautifully textured. If you have never tried them before, go on and buy a few and you will return back for more. They also work wonderfully with prawns in a salad.
Just remember, they should be raw when used in salads.

This marvellous fruit is jam packed with nutritional elements. I believe that just one persimmon contains six grams of fibre, which is almost a quarter of your RDA. The great thing about fibre is that it digests slowly, so you stay fuller for longer. They also contain pectin, which I believe helps to control ones appetite for longer. They say that it helps regulate blood-sugar levels, and keeps them from spiking, just another good reason to eat persimmons, I would say.

Persimmons contain high levels of antioxidants like vitamins A and C, A, E and K. They also contain Manganese, Phosphorus and Zinc, to name yet more wonderfully healthy elements. I’m also told that persimmons are also often used as a traditional remedy for haemorrhoids, asthma, diarrhoea and lung infections. Tannins found in persimmons can help to calm the intestinal movement to relieve diarrhoea. That being said, always check with your doctor before trying any natural remedies.

Let’s cook!

Persimmon Pickle

Ingredients:
6 persimmons
1 cup cider vinegar
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1tbls fresh ginger, grated
1 fresh red chilli, finely sliced
1tbls sea salt

Method:
Hull the persimmons and slice into 1.5 cm wedges. Tightly pack the persimmons into sterilised glass preserve jars.
Heat up the vinegars, sugar, ginger, chilli and salt, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolve.
Carefully pour the hot liquid over the persimmons in the jar and close immediately.

Sterilising Jars and Bottling:
If collecting used glass jars, make sure the lids fit securely and haven’t been bashed or dinged. Any air getting into the preserve will contaminate it.
Give the bottles and lids a good wash and rinse well. Try to get the labels off. Boiling the bottles in a large pot of water is very effective.
Preheat an oven to 150°C and dry the clean bottles for 10-15 minutes.
Simmer the pickle in a good heavy based pot; a cheap pot will ‘catch’ underneath.
Stir constantly, especially in the beginning to dissolve the sugar.
Bottle the pickle while still hot and ensure the sterilised bottles are hot too. Put the lid on immediately.
© Allee Bleue

Baked Persimmons
Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 ripe persimmons, halved
  • 50g butter
  • 200ml dessert wine
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeded and keep pod
  • ½ tsp mixed spice
  • 50g dark muscovado sugar
  • 200g frozen raspberries (do not defrost)

To serve:

  • 100g toasted hazelnuts, roughly crushed
  • Vanilla ice cream garnished with orange zest

Method:
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Melt together the butter, dessert wine, orange juice, vanilla seeds, mixed spice and sugar together.
Remove the leaves and halve the persimmons. Place cut side up in a snug fitting, round baking dish.
Pour over the vanilla syrup and tuck in the vanilla pod.
Bake for 20 minutes until the persimmons soften; spoon over the syrup at intervals.
Add the frozen raspberries for a further 3 minutes.
Sprinkle over toasted hazelnuts and serve with vanilla ice cream.