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Hawaii’s persimmons are a sweet treat

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    The squat fuyu and longer hachiya persimmons are both in season.

It’s the orange color that makes me think of autumn when I see a persimmon. The crisp fuyu and soft hachiya varieties are a nice addition to the fruit plate and definitely a signal to the end of summer fruits.

While most persimmons come from the mainland, look for locally grown ones in supermarkets and farmers markets in the next few weeks. Hashimoto Farm in Kula, Maui, is especially known for its maru variety, a crisp fruit that often has brown spots that indicate high sugar content. BEST Farm in Waimea, Hawaii, grows fuyu persimmons that are sweet and crunchy. Both farms are located in areas where temperatures are cool and ideal for growing this prized fruit that originated in China.

Persimmons are delicious eaten at peak ripeness. For the heart-shaped hachiya variety, the fruit should be soft to enjoy its creamy texture and tangy-sweet flavor. But for the smaller, tomato-shaped maru and fuyu varieties, the fruit should be firm; the crispness is part of the pleasure of this persimmon.

Persimmons make a nice addition to a salad — just add slices for extra crunch and sweetness among your greens. Use peeled and diced fuyu persimmons in place of mango in your favorite mango bread recipe. Enjoy persimmons now — the season is short but oh, so sweet!

Hawaii food writer Joan Namkoong offers a weekly tidbit on fresh seasonal products, many of them locally grown. Look for "Fresh Tips" every Wednesday.

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