At Thanksgiving, we were treated to these beautiful persimmons, which I'd never much tried before, and various family members sliced them up and passed them around. They had a mild but pleasant flavor. (Actually, I preferred the clementines that were in the same attractive fruit bowl.)
Last week, Lenny requested that I buy some when I went shopping. At Whole Foods, I paid $2 for ONE rather small, but nicely colored persimmon. Organic. It looked to me like the ones we had eaten.
We sliced it. It looked like the ones we had at Thanksgiving: brightly colored, sort of solid. But it was horrible. It made our mouths feel like cotton.
Food wizard Harold McGee, in his New York Times column today, has the explanation!
The persimmons that we see in markets are an Asian species that comes in two general types, one of which requires special handling and should be sold with a warning label for the novice.
The flat-bottomed Fuyu type can be eaten when firm, and it usually is. This is the persimmon that many restaurants are serving now, peeled and sliced into salads.
But elongated persimmons, usually the Hachiya variety, are absolutely inedible when firm. They are more astringent than the worst overbrewed tea or overextracted red wine you have ever been assaulted by. Their mouth-drying tannins recede only when the flesh ripens fully into a translucent, almost liquid mass.