POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 31, 2012
Japanese call it kaki, Koreans call it kam, Chinese call it hong chee; we call it persimmon. 'Tis the season for this bright orange, delectable fruit of fall.
Most persimmons in the supermarket come from California, but right now and in the next few weeks, you'll find some varieties that are grown on Maui. These persimmons come from Hashimoto Farm in Kula, where several hundred trees are spread out over five acres at an elevation of 3,300 feet. According to fourth-generation farmer Clark Hashimoto, some of the trees are 80 to 90 years old, planted by his great-grandfather.
At the Made in Hawaii booth at Kapiolani Community College's Saturday Farmers Market, you'll find the maru variety, a special one that is firm and sweet with a yellow-green skin instead of bright orange. When this fruit is picked, it is placed over dry ice for 24 hours to remove the astringency. This curing ensures a crunchy, sweet fruit.
Bright orange fuyu persimmons will soon be harvested and it will be a bountiful one, according to Hashimoto. Expect to see them at Foodland stores as well as the farmers market.
Hashimoto also grows the hachiya variety, the soft persimmon with the elongated shape that must be eaten fully ripe to avoid mouth-puckering astringency. But this variety is available only directly from the farm, along with dried persimmons and other persimmon products. For information, visit hashimotopersimmons.com.
Persimmons are delicious eaten out of hand, a perfect dessert fruit. Add them to a salad, use chopped persimmons in baked goods, include persimmon in fruit salads and slice them into that apple pie you're baking. This is fall's special fruit; enjoy it while you can.
Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown.