Be aware of your ingredients: Persimmon

Many people believe that the persimmon signifies the beginning of the autumn season. The fruit’s seasonality has a long history and is a unique autumn-inspired option for cafe menus.



Cover photo taken by Ricardo L via Unsplash

The fall season is here, and with it the persimmon is expected to come back, officially confirming the transition of seasons. In this episode of “Know Your Ingredients,” we’re exploring the history of this autumnal fruit and the different ways it is used all over the world and the ways that cafes are including it in their menus for autumn.

The persimmon’s journey across the globe

The persimmon was first discovered in China and is found in China, where there are more than 22,000 varieties. Persimmon trees eventually moved through China to Japan and other regions of Asia before finding their way into the Western world.

Hachiya persimmons can be distinguished by their pointed tip.

Image taken by J Lee via Unsplash.

Persimmon is delicate and floral. It has a flavor that is similar to that of a grapefruit and is used in various ways across many cultures. The most popular types of persimmons are hachiya and fuyu. Hachiya persimmons are distinguished by their pointed tip and are best enjoyed when they are soft and slightly overripe. Fuyu persimmons, on other hand, are shorter and round. They are usually consumed when they are firm and crisp with the texture of an apple or pear.

Persimmon trees thrive in areas that have mild winters and summers and can reach at least 25 feet in height. They bloom in March and produce fruit from October to January. That’s the reason persimmon is referred to as an autumn delight.

Traditional uses of persimmon

In Japan traditional autumn rituals involve the preparation of hoshigaki sweet-smelling dried persimmons. Hoshigaki is prepared by hanging persimmons on a hanger to dry for 4 to 6 weeks. Every day, the persimmon is gently massaged until its sugars are naturally formed crystals on the surface. The white white layer of sugar that appears on the outside of the persimmon is a sign that the hoshigaki has been prepared to be eaten.

The Los Angeles-based Cafe De Mama makes their own persimmons

syrup made in-house. Photo from Cafe de Mama.

Persimmon is used in Cafe Drinks

Although it is often consumed as a snack or as a salad ingredient or bread cookies, bread as well as other baked items, persimmon can be a distinctive seasonal addition to tea and coffee. The Los California-based Cafe De Mama, for instance, offers persimmon-infused milk all year long, made with a homemade persimmon syrup. It is available either with or without espresso.

“Our drinks were developed as a way of combining the most popular and traditional flavors from Korea into the form of a cup,” the cafe shares, “so that some of our customers can experience fresh flavors, and others enjoy flavors that remind them of the flavors of home.” The menu of the cafe also includes various traditional Korean flavors, such as injeolmi (sweet rice cake) and black sesame. These ingredients provide a distinctive taste of warmth and depth to their drinks.

If you encounter persimmons on your next trip to the supermarket or farmer’s market, give it a go at making hoshigaki or even an ice cream compote of persimmon to pour over your coffee. This fruit is only available every year, so make sure you enjoy it and soak up the season!

About the Author

In Los Angeles, Emily Joy Meneses (she/her) is an artist and writer who is dedicated to culture and collective responsibility. You will often visit her in Echo Park Lake, drinking cortado while writing about art, astrology, Animal Crossing and her hopes. Explore her short stories, poetry and soundscapes on her site.

This article was first published at Barista Magazine, an online magazine dedicated to baristas and coffee professionals.