Plant Description  

Fuyu Persimmons

 Fuyu Persimmons

‘Fuyu’, also referred to as Fuyugaki, typically the most popular non-astringent tree in Florida.This particular fruit is smaller, more gratifying and similar in colour, yet appearing like a squashed tomato, and is also delicious whilst still firm. The fruit is seedless and is also great for consuming raw or even cooking. The Fuyu ripens in November and is fairly sweet and crisp like anapple. They’re well-known by their “flat” bottoms and also squat shape. It ripens just after being picked from the tree, so you can buy them rock-hard and let them ripen at home. Frequently consumed raw in a salad, providing a splash of colour and crunch.

Plant

Persimmon is a much branched, dioecious (separate male and females parts on different trees) and evergreen tree which grows to a height of 7 to 32 metres with a stout and dark brown to black furrowed trunk measuring 50 to 80 cm in diameter and a conical crown. When young the branchlets are green and covered with fine silky hair. It bears oblong and alternate leaves measuring 8 to 30 cm by 2.5 to 12 cm. The upper surface is glossy and dark green and the lower surface is silvery and hairy. Petioles (leaf stalks) are 1.7 cm long and densely hairy. Young leaves are silky to hairy and pinkish to pale green. Male flowers form in 3 to 7 flowered axillary cymes (flat-topped clusters) or racemes (between the stem and branck of each leaf). Calyx (sepals of the flower) are deeply four lobed, tubular, villous and about 1 cm long. The creamy to white corolla (the petals of the flower collectively) have four reflexed lobes and stamens are 24 to 30 united in pairs at the base. Female flowers are axillary, solitary and somewhat larger than male flowers having 3-cleft style and 4 to 10 staminodes. Flowers are replaced by a globose or pumpkin-shaped berry measuring 5 to 12 cm by 8 to 10 cm. Fruits are orange, brown reddish and velvety which is crowned with a persistent stiff and pale green calyx. Skin is thin and densely villous. Pulp of the fruit is firm, whitish, sweet, aromatic and astringent. Seeds are three sided, dark brown and measure up to 4 × 2.5 × 1.5 cm. Seeds are covered with a whitish membrane which is transparent when fresh and becomes opaque when dried.

Flower

Usually, Persimmon trees do not bear fruit until they reach 3 to 6 years old. The tree blooms in spring and bears flowers of 2 cm to 2.5 cm wide. Female flowers grow singly and are creamy yellow in colour. Male flowers appear in threes with a pink tint. Flowers have four petals and four crown shaped sepals.

Fruit

Fruit is spherical to oval in shape and can weigh up to 500 grams. The shell is shiny, smooth and thin and its colour ranges from yellow to red to orange. It contains eight seeds which have an astringent taste. Fruit softens as it becomes mature. The furry taste is caused by tannins which lower during the ripening process. It has a high content of carotenoids beta carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin and zeaxanthin with some alpha carotene and lutein.

History

Locating the origin of persimmons is challenging since they appear to have beginnings in nations across the world, particularly in the United States (prior to the settlers arrival), Mexico, Central America, and Japan.  Upon first picking persimmons from trees, settlers assumed they would be tomato-like but they discovered that they were extremely sour and not worth consuming. The Native Americans needed to explain to them that the fruit should be left on the trees till October (Autumn) to mature. Initially, the settlers thought it was the frost which enabled them to ripen. The Algonquin Indians called them “putchamin,” “pasiminan,” and also “pessamin” (depending on their dialect).

At the same time, the most widely used variety (Diospyros kaki L.) actually originated from Japan, although it may have come down from China, western Asia or the Himalayas. It is regarded as a national fruit in Japan.Through the 1800’s, Japanese Persimmons were exported to the US. A range of varieties are available in Australia.

Use and Preparation

Traditional uses        

  • Ripe fruits are used to treat constipation and haemorrhoids.
  • Cooked persimmons are used for treating diarrhoea.
  • Dried ripe fruit is used for treating bronchial complaints.
  • Ground powder is useful for dry coughs.
  • Juice extracted from the unripe fruit is used as a cure for hypertension.
  • Peduncle (stalk of a flower or an inflorescence) is helpful for treating hiccups and coughs.
  • Hiccups could also be treated with calyx (outer whorl of the flower).
  • Juice extracted from unripe fruit is used to reduce blood pressure and the fruit stem provides relief from coughs.

Precautions          

  • Persimmon may rarely cause lumps or bezoars (collection of partially digested material) that block digestive tract.
  • People with digestive problems should consume it in small quantities.
  • The seeds of persimmon causes vomiting and dizziness.
  • Not to be consumed on an empty stomach because it contains high content of tannin, this could result in diarrhoea.
  • Allergic people should not consume it.
  • Use in limited quantities for children.

How to Eat    

  • Ripe fruit is consumed fresh or added to salads.
  • It can be fried or stewed like a vegetable.
  • Mix the flesh with other fruits in salads.
  • Season the flesh with lemon juice or lime and serve it as dessert.
  • Stew the flesh in syrup.
  • Fry the flesh cut into strips in butter and serve it with sausage, ham or other spicy meats.
  • May into jams and ice creams.
  • In California, Israel and China, fruits are dried and consumed as an energy snack.
  • Fruits are made into wine, cider and molasses.
  • Fruits are also used to make cakes, pies, desserts and bread.
  • Leaves are used to enhance flavour of pickled radishes.
  • Roasted seeds are used as a substitute for coffee.
  • Flesh is used in syrups, marmalades and puddings.
  • Leaves are used to make teas.

Other Facts    

  • In Philippines, wood is used to make handicrafts, musical instruments, veneer, exterior work and special furniture.
  • Pulp is used in cosmetics for making face packs due to its firming qualities.
  • Fuyu and Hachiya are the two types of persimmons available commercially.
  • Persimmons belong to the berry family and originated from China.
  • Some persimmons are seedless and flowers of these types do not require to be pollinated for producing fruit.
  • In the wild, Persimmon could live up to 75 years.

Recipe

Persimmon (kaki) is one of the most popular of fruits in Japan. The astringency of hachiya persimmons come from their high level of tannins; they are bitter and chalky and are only edible when they fully ripen at which point the chalkiness fades and the sweetness of the fruit comes forward. You will know Hachiya Persimmons are ripe when they become very soft, the flesh translucent and jelly-like, and their skin loses its opacity developing a brilliant red-orange colour. And this is when they are ready for this recipe, a super-quick and uncomplicated dessert inspired by a recent visit to Italy where I tried a similar dish called Cachi al Licore.

Cachi al Licore

Yield: 4 Servings

Ingredients

  • 6 hachiya persimmons, ripened and very soft
  • 2 fl oz/¼ cup (50 ml) Amaretto liqueur (or other liqueur of your choice)
  • 2 tbsp caster (superfine) sugar
  • 5½ oz (150 g) soft Amaretti biscuits
  • 2 tbsp pistachios, lightly crushed
  • 4 edible flowers, to decorate (optional)

How to Make It

  1. Halve the persimmons, scoop out the flesh into a bowl and discard the seeds.
  2. Lightly mash the flesh with the back of a fork, keeping it rather lumpy, and remove any white strings. Stir in the Amaretto liqueur and sugar and mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight.
  3. Just before serving, roughly crumble the Amaretti biscuits and use them to cover the bottom of 4 serving glasses or ramekins. Spoon the persimmon mixture over the biscuits, top with a little more crushed biscuits, the crushed pistachio nuts and an edible flower if you wish, and serve.

Nutritional value

Health Benefits of Persimmon

Persimmons are exotic fruits which provide sweet taste. Persimmons are a great source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, Vitamin E, manganese, dietary fibre, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus. It also possesses organic compounds such as betulinic acid, gallocatechins, catechins and other carotenoid compounds. The ample amounts of nutrient it contains helps to improve eye health, prevent cancer, lower signs of aging, boost the immune system, promote digestion, increase metabolism, lower cholesterol, enhance cognitive function, strengthen bones, lower blood pressure and skin care. Moreover, it assists in the healing process of the body, lowers inflammation, supports weight loss and also promotes blood circulation in the body.

  1. Overall health

Leaves of Persimmon possess a therapeutic property that helps to prevent and treat cerebral arteriosclerosis, hypertension and diabetes. It showed a meaningful neuroprotection against reperfusion injury in vitro and in vivo. Additionally, it regulates immune function and inhibits inflammation. Still further investigations are essential to find out which individual bioactive compounds are responsible for pharmacological effects in vivo and in vitro and their mode of actions. Further clinical trials and safety assessments should be performed before it is used for medicinal practices. The studies revealed the pharmacological activities such as hypolipidemic, antioxidative, hemostasis, antibacterial and antidiabetic activites as well as effects on cardiovascular system. (1)

  1. Cancer prevention

Fruit is loaded with antioxidants and anti-cancer properties which could enhance the body’s ability to counteract free radicals, prevent diseases and enhance overall health. Free radicals are harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that cause mutation of healthy cells into cancerous cells and could damage various organs. Persimmons have high levels of Vitamin A and C as well as phenolic compounds such as gallocatechins and catechins which are associated with prevention of various cancers. Add persimmon to the diet to prevent various sorts of cancer.

  1. Strengthen immunity

Persimmon help to enhance immunity due to the content of Vitamin C. Persimmon provides 80% of the daily requirement of Vitamin C which assists in stimulation of the immune system and promotes production of white blood cells (WBC). WBC are the primary line of defense for the body to counteract against viral, microbial and fungal infections as well as toxins and foreign bodies.

  1. Digestive health

Persimmon contains 20% of the daily requirement of fibre in a single serving. Fibre assists the body process food efficiently by adding bulk to the stool, stimulate peristaltic motion for food movement through the digestive tract, promote secretion of digestive and gastric juices and also provides relief from diarrohea and constipation. Persimmons are a high fibre fruit which enhances the gastrointestinal system and prevents the chances of colorectal cancer and other similar health problems. It assists people to lose weight by defending against the uptake of lipids which can cause obesity. Chronic constipation could make the blood vessels around the anus to swell and even bleed and rupture which is known as piles or haemorrhoides. It prevents constipation and prevents painful piles.

  1. Prevent tumors

Besides reduction in the risk for cancer, it lowers the chances of tumor development. Persimmon contains betulinic acid that is a confirmed anti-tumor compound. It lowers the risk of contracting tumors by encouraging apoptosis which is also called programmed cell death. In the existence of a tumour, it lowers the size and prevents metastasizing of cancer.

  1. Slows aging process

Persimmon has a high content of Vitamins such as beta carotene, Vitamin A, lycopene, lutein and cryptoxanthins. It acts as an antioxidant in the body to lower oxidative stress and also prevents the signs of premature aging such as age spots, wrinkles, fatigue, Alzheimer’s disease, muscle weakness, loss of vision and other conditions. Free radicals results in faster and premature aging. Antioxidants and phytonutrients help to reverse aging effect and eliminate free radicals.

  1. Eye health

The compounds found in Persimmons are beneficial for eye health. It has zeaxanthin which is associated with improvements in eye health with its antioxidant properties. The studies show that it lowers cataracts, macular degeneration and night blindness. The studies show that Persimmon helps to maintain as well as improve vision health. The damage of eye retina causes loss of vision. Retinal damage is caused by the production of free radicals due to oxygen’s reaction with certain molecules. This fruit contains nutrients such as Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Vitamin K which is renowned for its anti-oxidant properties. It is essential to prevent eye from retinal damage. Zeaxanthin and lutein lowers damage caused by UV rays and other infections associated with eye.