Taste Test: Persimmon

3613231732_640c9eddc9_b.jpg Image via Sandy Austin's Flickr People always ask me what I like to do in Tokyo. What's fun? What's cool. Well here's my dirty secret. Most nights, I sit in my parents' living room and watch silly game shows while drinking green tea and eating persimmon.

Sujeonggwa Peel and thinly slice 2 inches of fresh ginger root. Bring the ginger, 6 cups of water, and 2 cinnamon sticks to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Add 1/2c sugar and stir until dissolved. Remove from heat and strain. Add 4 dried seedless persimmons to the cinnamon-ginger water and allow to stand for 3 hours to soften. Ladle liquid into individual serving bowls, placing one persimmon in each bowl. Sprinkle pine nuts on top before serving. Source: Korean Cooking Made Easy by Soon Young Chung

Persimmon is called kaki in Japanese, and it has been constantly battling against mangoes for first place on my list of favorite fruits. Kaki is a prominent part of everyday life in Japan — there's even an adjective almost exclusively used to describe the taste of a bitter persimmon, shibui. (The only other time it's used is to describe older men with graying hair who are nonetheless hot, like George Clooney.) China, Japan, and Korea are the top three producers of persimmon in the world. The Chinese believe that the fruit helps to regulate energy flow. It's also known to cure digestive problems, and it's a great source of B and C vitamins. In Korea, some people use dried persimmons to make a traditional fruit punch-like drink called Sujeonggwa. It's supposedly great with soju, too! In the US, I see a lot of restaurants use cooked fuyu persimmon around this time of the year to supplement salads and meats, but I prefer to eat it raw once its blood orange skin has turned ever slightly soft. Every installment of Taste Test will explore recipes, the science, and some history behind a specific food item.


  1. It’s supposedly great with soju, too!

    You’d need something to cut the flavor of soju, that’s for sure.

  2. For people close to Mexico , Hermosillo, Sonora in particular, persimmons are very common and much less expensive than in Japan. Try them and enjoy

    1. What is called in Spanish? I am looking for it because I was diagnosed with Crohn. I read in a book that is the best fruit for the Crohn disease. So I live by the border and I’m trying to find this fruit. Thank you

  3. Nice.

    There is nothing sweeter on earth than one of these ripened & picked right off the tree.

    We have one in our house in Mexico – right next to an avacado tree.

  4. Persimmon means kaki? In Italy we call Kaki as in Japan. We use to eat when the fruits got really soft and sometimes we eat kaki with Williams liqueur (I love it)!!!

  5. Eating frozen and thawed persimmons was always one of my favorite parts of Moscow winters. I hardly ever eat them in the US, but just yesterday I tossed a couple in the freezer, with plans to eat them in a few weeks. They’re a lot less astringent after a stint in the freezer.

  6. In Brazil persimmons are called “caqui” (which I’m sure comes from the Japanese word). My favorites are the soft and super-sweet ones, their bright orange color is so beautiful! I’m obsessed with them.

  7. I’ve always disliked them, they are overly sweet yet astringent, yes. Perhaps i need to try freezing them.

  8. the real place to eat persimmons, or kakis is brazil.
    due to the japanese migration to the fields of southwest of brazil, 100 yrs ago, those sanseis and nisseis brought top notch cultivation knowledge, and applied it on one o the most fertile grounds in the world. so when japanese come to visit us, they gasp at the flavour, juices, size and varieties of fruits over there, including that of caquis. if uve been there, if uve talked to someone that visited the area and compared, ull see,
    rama forte, giombo and fuyu r 3 very different kinds that will blow ur mind.

  9. Someone left fresh persimmons in the copy room and sent out an email this morning. I just tasted my first one and wow, neat flavor, and yes, very astringent. Now I know what what a freshly downed alum (a la cartoons) feels like.

  10. In my region they are called caco (plur. cachi )(pronounced kakow/kaki) which is always the subject of gross joke (caco/cachi means “I/you shit”, in Italian). They are good, but IMHO, only as a winter fruit. I suspect they low resistance to transport and stocking makes them difficult and expensive to find far away from the production places.

    They are not astringent at all, when they are fully mature, but it is difficult to know which are without tasting. Two kind, which may just be two different way of harvesting them, are normally available: the hard ones (good, less sweet with a subtle vanilla flavour) and the soft ones (very soft and juicy and sweet).

    I love the fact that they are mature before oranges and other citruses, providing an alternative to the crappy winter apples. I wouldn’t consider them one of my favourite fruits, though.

  11. if a persimmon tastes astringent it probably isn’t ready to be eaten. and some varieties are worse than others. if it’s acorn-shaped it has to be REALLY soft. i prefer fuyu because they are tasty while still firm/crispy.

  12. My kids and I just had one today for breakfast! First one ever. They loved it and I did too. It has a taste all its own. Like an apple with no core but the texture of a soft ripe pear. Very nice indeed!

  13. I’ve got one ripening right now, for a miracle berry tasting. Sure, we’ll be doing all the usual stuff, like lemons and Tabasco sauce, but I really want to try a persimmon under that influence.

  14. I love Kaki, but during the season in Japan, they are sort of like zucchini. You can’t go anywhere in the countryside without someone giving you some from the local orchard. One time some friends and I were driving down to Totsukawa (in southern Nara-ken) and stopped at a rural post office to use the washroom. The two women in our group went in to find the ladies’ and came out with two large bags of persimmon.

  15. These things will give you diarrhea if you eat them raw. Never eat more than one if it’s raw. The traditional dried persimmons on the other hand, doesn’t give diarrhea. But those things look gross.

    1. The Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy notes that persimmons have been identified as causing epidemics of intestinal bezoars, and that up to ninety percent of food boluses that occur from eating too much of the fruit require surgery for removal.

  16. These are great but persimmon season in China coincides with hairy crab season. Hairy crabs and persimmons should not be eaten together or they cause illness, or so I’m told by the Shanghainese.

  17. The persimmons in the photo are fuyu persimmons — flat on the bottom and hard when ripe. There are also hachiya persimmons, acorn-shaped and nearly inedible unless squishy-ripe. I like both. Hachiyas make better dried persimmon imho.

  18. My grandma and my mom used to make persimmon pudding. It was a bread-type pudding. We used to pour either cream or milk in with it.

    Great, now I want some. Good luck finding persimmons :-P

  19. I saw a persimmon tree whose limbs were practically groaning with ripening fruit in Queens two weeks ago.. Man, I wanted to pick a couple, I thought, if the owners are caucsioan they probably think them “poison berries” as coined by my sister in law whose property in LA was lousy with them. But if they were Asian (like myself), I might get shot (or at least beaten about the head and shoulders with a broom by someone who looks too much like my grandmother) for trying to bag a few.

    And, Mortis, you can get Soju all over the anywhere!? Unless, you live someplace like Nebraska.

    They are a great fruit! Just like the new kiwi berry phenom, they are packed with all kinds of good stuff.

  20. As I understand it, only Japanese persimmons (the most common variety) are called kaki. There are two other species including the American persimmon which is native to the eastern US and the date-plum which is native to southeast Europe/southwest Asia and was called the fruit of the Gods by the Greeks.

    There are both astringent and non-astringent persimmons. I had a couple trees when I was a kid and frankly, hated them all, but one was far less astringent than the other.

  21. One of the few things I enjoy about living in Virginia is the winter persimmons… so tasty, but if not yet ripe, will make your mouth feel like it has turned inside out and covered in cotton. Always fun that the most face puckering fruit can also be one of the sweetest once ready for indulgence. :)

  22. I used to eat them regularly when living in China. Didn’t much enjoy them, but the CCP provided them to us foreign teachers. Very sweet, but no real original, unique taste…just sweetness. Often left a chalky feeling in my mouth and teeth as well…much like what raw baby spinach does, but worse.

  23. Persimmons are great, especially the new variety that you can eat when they are note quite ripe, and they leave NO chalk taste in your mouth. I have them every couple of months due to the cost in Canada.

  24. They sell them here in London on Portobello Market, near me and I seem to remember seeing them lots of other places (Sainsburys, Tescos), never as persimmon, they’re called sharon fruit or kaki fruit.

    I’ve always found them rather sweet and tasteless, I must have missed something. Must try them again

  25. Was eating persimmon cut up and covered in yogurt for breakfast as I read this!! I like ’em not quite fully ripe – crisp like an apple. Honey and yogurt balance out the “shibui”-ness.
    My friend makes a persimmon chutney that goes so well with dahl curry… mmm mmm.

  26. Until several months ago I didn’t know anybody cultivated persimmons. I’ve only had the ones that grew wild in S.C. and I always noticed the trees grew with some distances between them (I mean thousands of feet to miles). My best friends mother use to make a chutney from those persimmons. And those cultivated persimmons? I bought them at a farmers market and they were from Israel and called Sharon Fruit.

  27. I’ve not had much experience with these varieties of persimmon – usually they’re too expensive for me to experiment – but I know many folks who go gaga over them.

    On the other hand, my son and I have been playing with Texas Black Persimmon (http://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=dite3)- they’re much smaller (an inch to inch and a half diameter usually) mostly seeds, extremely astringent when not fully ripe but very sweet when ripe.

    Though cattle ranchers sometimes consider them toxic (they give the cattle – and people – a bad case of the trots if they eat too many) we have been eating them for years straight from the bush. They’re a lot of work to eat though, as there’s usually as much thick skin and big seeds as there is pulp inside.

    Last year I got the idea to collect a bunch of them, squeeze the pulp out, and make fruit leather. It worked great. This year after we made several batches at home my son asked me to share the process with his class at school, and here’s the gooey result: http://circletime.shutterfly.com/27 Probably not likely to become a commercial product any time soon but easy enough to make if they’re available locally.

    The natural health folks always say that the darker fruits and veggies are better for you, having more vitamins, anti-oxidants, and the like. If that’s true, these are pretty darn good for you – and they’re tasty too.

  28. I have two persimmon trees in my yard, male and female. The fruit from the female tree is what most people seem to like, the male version is larger and tastes a bit like biting into alum. They are ripening now. We make persimmon cake and cookies from the fruit.

  29. In Albania, they are called hurma, and they have plenty of trees. It is a winter fruit, and they eat them raw, but for the two winters, I learned quickly that I wasn’t a big fan. However, ever since, I’ve wanted to try them prepared. I have heard of the freezer trick, and I’ve also heard they make great pies. Anyone tried that?

  30. I’ve lived in Italy for the past nine years and have always wondered what cachi were and now I know. Persimmons! Thanks, Boingboing.

    I have some in the fridge right now but am unsure how to eat them. I wonder how they’d be in my morning smoothie….

  31. For pies, mix with sweet potato or apple for best flavor. Also good to mix with your holiday yams and then cut the sugar for diabetics.

    I love to make persimmon salsa, easy to do this time of year. I roast the persimmons with cerrano peppers from our garden and add to the other salsa ingredients (tomato, cilantro, etc). Yummmmmmmy good fruit!

  32. it’s pretty much the same word in all the romantic languages + Japan: caqui (Spanish & Portuguese), cachi (Italian), kaki (Japanese & French)

  33. Anon @21:

    In my opinion, the taste of wild American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) is significantly better than that of Fuyu persimmons. I haven’t tried the other varieties of the Asian persimmon

  34. In the southern part of Louisiana they are everywhere. We can’t believe that some people have never eaten a persimmon.

  35. In the philipines if friends meet up they give a bag full of persimmons.(Well Filipinos are always like that!) I myself is the same mangos and persimmons are both my number #1 When I was little I ate them (SF) but then i moved 2 LA and all I got were mangos once in a while we would get persimmons but they are gone fast!

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