The Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons from Van Dyke Ranch are looking beautiful right now, and this Sunday is your last chance to pick some up at the Live Oak Farmers Market. The market will be closed the following two Sundays for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day.
The deep red-orange Hachiyas have soft flesh that tastes slightly flowery, kind of like a peach or cantaloupe. This variety does very well as a baking ingredient for persimmon breads, cookies, and cinnamon-spiced cakes.
The Hachiyas are tart when they are firm, and extremely sweet when they are soft. Wait until they are soft or even mushy to bake with them. You can also freeze persimmon flesh when it is ripe, to bake another time.
“We just had a couple frosts so now they are all ripened, and they are too soft to ship. That’s what makes them ripe, is the cold,” said Betty Van Dyke, who has over 70 persimmon trees between her two farms in Gilroy.
The family has been growing persimmons since her grandfather immigrated to California from Yugoslavia and started his first farm in Cupertino, four generations ago.
The Fuyu persimmons are paler, yellow-orange in color and rounder than the Hichayas. They are eaten when they are firm. The Fuyus have a sweet taste reminiscent of an apple, but they can be a little bit tart on their own. Van Dyke recommends using them in a salad. This variety is not desireable for baking.
The following recipe was inspired by a simple recipe for persimmon bread found online. I added some orange zest from the navel oranges which are now coming out of Old Creek Ranch, and can be found at the Live Oak, Aptos and Downtown markets.
The recipe is fairly easy, and the results were very impressive—moist and not too sweet, with a good texture. Add some ribbon and voilá: a perfect gift for the foodie in your family.
Baking time will vary depending on if you make muffins or breads, but they should be done when a knife comes out clean.
3/4 cups white sugar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 generous tsp cinnamon
1-2 cups persimmon pulp (I used two cups)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup golden raisins
Zest of one orange (optional, gives a nice citrusy kick but overpowered the cinnamon a bit)
Preheat oven to 325. Grease and flour baking pan of choice. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt, nuts, raisins in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and oil. In another small bowl, mash the persimmon pulp and mix the baking soda into it, then combine with the sugar mixture. Fold dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Bake for 75 minutes or until knife comes out clean.