How well I remember the first time I met a persimmon. We were in Fremantle market near Perth a few years ago. I had drawn us over to the fruit and veg stands, where lots of the traders had examples of their wares for tasting. I was a bit suspicious when one held out a slice of what looked like very firm tomato - I thought I was quite well-up on exotic fruits from years of celebrating the Jewish harvest festival as a child, but I didn't recognise this. I tried it anyway - and was sold. This was no tomato (though I love tomatoes). Instead it was a supremely sweet-yet-firm nugget of delight, and it was a persimmon. When we got home I realised that you can get them in the supermarkets here, but for at least half their season they are imported from South Africa. For the other half, however, they come from Israel, and I'm prepared to extend my definition of European that far (Eurovision, people - they're in Eurovision). So for those few months I gorge on these little delights, and try not to think about how much sugar I must be ingesting. A few weeks ago I outdid even myself, however, as I bought a whole bag for a pound from Coventry market, and even I don't allow myself to eat that many in quick succession. They were starting to look a bit sorry for themselves after a week or so, and I decided I'd better find another use for them.*
I've been engaged in a long-term project to clear and defrost the freezer so I didn't want to bake any breads or cookies that would end up in there. Instead I was inspired by two very nice fruit chutneys I've eaten over the last few weeks, and found this recipe instead. The reviews were very useful, so I made the following changes:
I halved everything EXCEPT the fruit. I had so much of it, and wanted it to be really fruity, so I used four or possibly even five smallish very ripe persimmons.
I used much less than half of the vinegar as comments said that it was very vinegary. I wanted quite a loose chutney so I added a little bit more water towards the end, and mine was neither too vinegary nor too dry.
I used half cider vinegar and half white wine vinegar because I didn't have enough cider vinegar.
The resulting chutney had a good spicy kick to it, though you could dial the heat up or down according to preferences. I filled one average sized jar from my batch, which was just right. I have a bit of a tendency to hoard chutneys, and now that I hardly eat cheese I don't use it very much! I'm looking forward to trying this one with salads and bread though, and I might even let The Scientist try it. If he buys me some more persimmons.
A couple more pertinent persimmon facts: there are two types of persimmon, one of which is wonderful, but the other of which is astringent and disgusting. There is no mistaking whether you have the right one! The right one is small and tomato shaped, although it also depends on how ripe they are. The other is bigger and more bulbous (see a handy illustrated guide from another persimmon lover here). Secondly, persimmons are also called sharon fruits, but I think persimmon is prettier. Thirdly, my aunt told me you shouldn't eat more than one per day, but I have no idea why. Fourthly, if you cut the top off and put one in the freezer for a few hours, they make a delicious little sorbet you can eat with a spoon. Versatile AND pretty, eh? But I can't show you how pretty because I'd eaten all the others by the time I made the chutney :)
* why didn't The Scientist help me out? Well, to be honest, I don't even know if he likes them as they are so firmly designated as mine. He could try one if he wanted, honest. Well, as long as I had at least six more in the bowl.