My backyard persimmon tree is loaded with persimmons this autumn. Enough for me and the birds, too. The fruit is astringent and makes your mouth pucker but if you don’t mind the taste then the fruit is very nutritious. I’ve experimented with several ways to use my persimmons including persimmon and black bean salsa.
Backyard Persimmon Tree
My backyard tree is full of persimmons this fall. Last year there were no persimmons but this year we have a bumper crop. Persimmon trees are easy to grow in Louisiana, in fact they don’t require much care and don’t like to be over-fertilized. They are not susceptible to many diseases. The main problem is fruit drop in the summer due to uneven rains and watering. Although the leaves may get a rust on them, it doesn’t affect the fruit. I planted this tree about 20 years ago in a sunny location. Now we enjoy a bountiful harvest.
Astringent vs non-astringent persimmons
These persimmons are Hachiya persimmons, an astringent variety which means that your mouth puckers if you try to eat a piece of fruit that is not really ripe. But the persimmons can be picked while “green” and the fruit will ripen if left at room air on your counter. The one in the center is ripe, gelatinous and sweet. The skin just slips off it. It looses most of the pucker quality of the unripe persimmons. When cooking with astringent persimmons they resemble bananas or mangoes.
Here is a ripe persimmon cut in half. It has an interesting pattern.
The key to cooking with persimmons when they need to be cut into pieces is to use a non-astringent variety such as Fuyu, Ichi or Izu persimmons. These have the texture more of a cantaloupe and are more mellow. They can be consumed while still crisp and firm.
Internet sites which sell persimmon trees are good resources for learning about varieties of persimmons. This site includes photos of the persimmons and I found it to be very educational. (//www.justfruitsandexotics.com/JFE/product-category/fruit-trees/persimmon) Locally in Baton Rouge, we have the wonderful resource of the Burden Rural Life Museum and Gardens on Essen Lane. A large variety of persimmon trees is growing in a garden; a hands-on resource to seeing the persimmons. I wrote a bog post about my visit to this working farm in the center of Baton Rouge on October 14, 2014.
Since I only have astringent persimmons, I’ve selected ones which are soft but not so gelatinous that they fall apart. I learned the hard way not to use astringent persimmons which are still crisp. In any event, the persimmons should be peeled, the peel contains a very tart tannin that is not good to eat.
Salsa is Spanish for “salad”. I associate salsa with Mexican cuisine. Traditionally, salsa is a refreshing blend of chunks of tomatoes, lime juice, jalapeno and cilantro. There are salsa recipes using all sorts of vegetables and fruits, from traditional tomato salsa to mangoes to watermelon.
For this variation I’m using my backyard persimmons. This is one of my trials using crisp persimmons; next time I’ll substitute a non-astringent variety or ones from my tree which are ripe and soft. I added black beans to the salsa to add texture, color, nutrition, flavor.The spices that I associate with salsa are chili powder and cumin. So these flavorings always go into whatever salsa I’m making. I also included cilantro, jalapeno peppers, lime juice and small amount of a mild flavored onion.
This time I added garlic powder, onion powder (or onion salt), a pinch of salt and olive oil, too.
Making Persimmon and Black Bean Salsa
This recipe is easy to make. Peel the persimmons–don’t omit this step–and dice them. Drain the black beans well, chop the onions and mince the cilantro. Add everything to a bowl. Stir and chill.
How do I serve this? The salsa makes a great snack, serve with tortilla chips or crackers. Or as a side dish along with rice and chicken or meat. Or just by itself. Enjoy!
Louisiana Persimmon and Black Bean Salsa
- 1-15 oz can black beans
- 2 non-astringent persimmons, such as Fuyu (about 1 cup peeled and diced)
- 2 Tbsp white onion, finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
- 1/2 tsp chili powder
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
- 1 lime, juiced
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
Method and Steps:
- Drain and rinse the black beans, place in medium bowl.
- Peel and dice the persimmons, add to black beans.
- Add onions, cilantro and seasonings-chili powder, ground cumin, garlic powder, onion powder and salt (optional). Stir to combine.
- Add the juice of one lime and olive oil. Stir to combine. Chill.