Bright orange and glossy, persimmons are glorious hanging from a tree in autumn. They are ripe for such a short time (May and June) so when you can, eat them and enjoy their apple-like crispness and sweet taste. Thinly sliced, they provide crunch in sweet and savoury salads and are great on a cheeseboard. But they are good, too, cooked in wintry desserts such as this persimmon clafoutis or steamed pudding with coconut anglaise. Try them roasted with other autumn fruits.
Most persimmons in New Zealand are the non-astringent Fuyu variety but you may be able to find the astringent type at farmers’ markets. Tricky to store, these astringent ones need to ripen to a jelly-like consistency to be edible and are eaten with a spoon. Fortunately the non-astringents are easier to handle: store at room temperature and eat from firm. Look for bright orange, evenly coloured fruit. Persimmons are a good source of beta-carotene and vitamins A and C, along with potassium and fibre. For more, check out Peter Gordon’s guide to the fruit here.