Monday, October 19, 2009

Persimmons Can Be Healthy, Sweet Treat When Ripe

By David Burton
University Extension

Mid-October is the time of year when persimmons ripen and a fully ripened persimmon tastes great according to Tammy Roberts, a nutrition and health education specialist with University of Missouri Extension.
“If your lips pucker when you hear the word ‘persimmon,’ and you wondered why anyone would ever want to eat a persimmon, then there is a good chance you haven’t eaten a persimmon when it was fully ripe,” said Roberts.
Ripe persimmons are a small orange-red smooth-skinned fruit measuring from one to three inches. American persimmon trees are native to Missouri.
The bitterness in the fruit leaves as it ripens and the flesh becomes soft.
Missouri persimmons should be picked and eaten when they are very soft but will ripen off the tree if picked before they are fully ripe.
“If you pick them before they are ready to eat, just leave them at room temperature for a few days to allow them to ripen. To speed up the process, you can put them in a paper bag with a banana or apple,” said Roberts.
Ripe fruit can be stored in the refrigerator for two to three days according to Roberts.
Persimmons can also be frozen for year-round use. Just wash and peel then cut them into sections. Press the fruit through a sieve to make a puree. For better quality, add one-eighth teaspoon crystalline ascorbic acid or one and one-half teaspoons crystalline citric acid to each quart of puree.
Missouri persimmons are so sweet when they are ripe that they need no added sugar. Pack the puree into freezer containers leaving headspace, seal and freeze.
Persimmons are high in vitamin A and a good source of vitamin C and fiber.
“Many people like them best when picked and eaten right off the tree. They can also be pureed and used as a topping for ice cream or cake. They are a great addition to rice dishes and fruit salads. Many people like to make persimmon pudding and persimmon cookies,” said Roberts.
For more information on nutrition issues, go online to http://extension.missouri.edu or contact Tammy Roberts at (417) 682-3579.

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