Persimmons were not in my repertoire of food until a few years ago.
Actually, I lied. They were but in a context in which I hadn't grown to love them.
The fall of my junior year of college, my friend Jenny and I took a bike ride to this bridge which is famed for its graffiti. Neither of us had ever been on our bikes for that long of a distance (5 or so miles), where the wind to the west and east is as cruel in one direction as it is exhilarating in the other. After spending some time inspecting the graffiti, we found a few persimmon trees along the road and each picked one, like a bright orange egg waiting to be hatched. Having never really been exposed to persimmons, especially those of the hachiya variety, I took it home and immediately cut it open. But, being of the hachiya variety, and it not even close to being ripe, I was immediately exposed to my first bout of astringency.
And let me tell you, it is a pretty awful experience. All the saliva is sucked out of your mouth and for some of the longest minutes of your life, you don't know if it will ever come back. Don't worry, it eventually does but from that experience I decided that persimmons were not meant for me.
But, they kept coming back in some form or another.
My roommate in college, Magdalen, loves persimmons and would have her array of fuyus lined up on the counter until they were the perfectly ripe. She often described them as having little crunchy bits in the flesh which Kristen and I didn't understand until we became just as persimmon obsessed.
Then there is the salad that one of my aunts makes for Thanksgiving—there's lettuce with slices of fingerling potatoes, sweet and tender haricot green beans, strips of prosciutto and slices of persimmon with cheese and a slight coating of a simple vinaigrette. But even, then, persimmons still didn't stand out to me.
It wasn't until I ate a plain fuyu, even though it was of the chocolate variety (bonus!), did I understand what Magdalen meant by the crunchy bits in the flesh. It wasn't the astringent hachiya that I had been first exposed to but I was finally able to associate persimmons with what they actually are supposed to be.
As for hachiyas, the funny thing about working for a grocery store, is that you are exposed to so many different new food products that it is easy for you to change your mind about something.
Yet, another thing about working in the food industry is that you often need food items a season before they are actually ripe. It was very unlikely we were ever going to find persimmons in July, so I watercolored them instead.
By the time persimmon season finally came around, I was ready to eat both, waiting for the fuyus to reach their perfect soft firmness and for the hachiyas to swell like balloons so I could try them again in their ripened glory.
It took weeks for both to get there and when the hachiyas finally made it, I turned them into these muffins.
These are similar to banana muffins in that you add in the mashed fruit and it blends in to be part of the batter rather than in chunks. Hachiyas are best for this since they are more pulpy but if you have overripe fuyus, they would also work.
Usually, I am not super fond of whole wheat flour but had some that needed to be used up so they went in these, too.
These muffins end up with a muted persimmon taste so if you desire more, chunks of fuyu persimmon would also be good.
On second thought, chocolate chips would have been an excellent addition.
Adapted from this recipe
Yields: about 18 muffins
- 2 cups whole wheat or regular flour
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
- ¾ cup white sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 very ripe hachiya persimmons or 6 very ripe fuyu persimmons, with the pulp removed
- ½ cup yogurt
Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 12 cup muffin tin. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, ginger, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a stand mixer or a large bowl and a hand mixer, cream together butter and both sugars. Add in eggs, one at a time until incorporated. Then, add vanilla, hachiya pulp and yogurt.
Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until just combined. Lumps are okay.
Fill muffin tins about ⅔ of the way full. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown and an inserted skewer is removed clean. Set to cool on a wire rack.