By Rebecca Bragg

If you've ever bitten into a hachiya persimmon before it was ready to eat, you're not likely to make that mistake again. This brilliant-hued fall fruit needs to ripen to the point of squishiness before its extreme bitterness, caused by high tannic acid content, mellows into intoxicating sweetness. The only equipment you need to ripen persimmons at home is a paper bag and a banana or apple.

Persimmon on a wooden table
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Close-up of persimmons in basket

Hachiyas and Fuyus: Telling Them Apart

If you can't wait to sink your teeth into a persimmon, the variety that offers instant gratification is the tomato-shaped, flat-bottomed fuyu. The flesh of the fuyu is delicious right after harvesting, while still crisp and firm, or left to ripen off the tree until it softens a little more. Unlike the fuyu, the larger, heart-shaped hachiya must be harvested unripe because by the time it's ready to eat, it's so fragile that it's ready to fall apart.

Home-Ripening Hachiya Persimmons

Bananas and apples are among fruits that release the gas ethylene as they ripen, thereby hastening ripening in some other fruits, including persimmons. Put your persimmons into a loosely sealed paper bag with either of those and keep checking the consistency. It might take a week or more, but when the persimmons are ready to eat, they should feel almost like jelly. Eat them with a spoon, like custard, or put them in the refrigerator, where they'll keep for up to three days. Freezing the persimmon whole for 24 hours and then thawing it also removes astringency and turns the flesh pulpy.