Tangy and sweet at the same time, persimmons have a unique, moderate flavor that might remind you of a honeydew melon with more tang. But here's the deal – you need to know what type of persimmon you have before trying to ripen it on your kitchen counter or in the freezer. Persimmons contain lots of vitamin C, with close to 14 percent of your daily requirement in one large fruit. They also have high levels of healthy carotenoid chemicals, as you can see by the bright red and orange colors in the flesh of both fruits.
Types of Persimmons
Think of Fuya persimmons as a tame fruit. Bright orange or reddish-orange and shaped like a tomato, non-astringent Fuyas are ripe when their flesh is still crisp like an apple. You can wait until the flesh softens to eat a Fuya, but you don't have to. With the acorn-shaped and very astringent, tannic Hachiya, you'll get a rude surprise if you bite into it while the fruit is still hard. Read labels or study the shape of your persimmon before deciding whether or not it needs more or less ripening time.
On the Kitchen Counter
Both Fuyas and Hachiyas will ripen at room temperature. Setting them on a window sill or in a fruit bowl gives you the pleasure of admiring the vivid fruits and congratulating yourself on making a healthy and adventurous choice in your grocery shopping. Fuyas are ripe when the fruit is no longer rock hard, but is still somewhat hard, typically in two or three days. Hachiyas are slowpokes, and may take a few weeks for the skin to dull and the flesh to turn very soft.
Ripening in a Paper Bag
Both Fuyas and Hachiyas ripen far more quickly in a paper bag along with an apple then if you simply placed them on the kitchen counter. Close the bag by folding down the top of the bag almost to the level of the fruit so the ethylene gas produced by the apple reaches the persimmons easily and doesn't remain up near the top of the bag. Turn the fruit each day so each piece ripens evenly. You'll know when the persimmons are ripe by the slight give on a Fuya when you press with your thumb and the extremely soft feel of a Hachiya.
Liquor for Ripening
If you're an impatient type, try the very quick Japanese ripening technique. Place the fruit in an air-tight container in a single layer, sprinkle a few drops of brandy or rum on the brown leaves on top of the fruit and cover the container. Fuyas soften in a day or two and Hachiyas in four or five days. A disadvantage of this method is that Fuya types can soften so quickly that you will not be able to slice them to use in fruit salads or to eat out-of-hand.
Ripening takes just one day when you place Hachiyas in the freezer. However, what you gain in speed with this method, you'll lose in flavor. Slow ripening helps a Hachiya develop the sugars that give the fruit its distinctive flavor. You can also freeze Fuyas to speed softening, but you will lose both their flavor and their firmer texture.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.