Persimmon fruit, also known as the Oriental Apple, is getting more and more popular thanks to its incredible health benefits. You can find it in stores and on the menu of good restaurants almost without any problems. Resembling small yellow-orange tomatoes, this interesting fruit tastes like a sweet plum and contains a lot of substances valuable for our health. Persimmon rejuvenates, reduces blood pressure, cholesterol, improves vitality, and strengthens immunity, just to name a few. The taste and health benefits are the clear reason why oriental persimmon should appear in our diet as soon as possible!
Are you wondering how to eat persimmon fruit? Or maybe you’ve seen this exotic fruit in the store and want to know more about its properties? You’ll learn everything in this article, so let’s dive right in.
What is persimmon
Persimmon (Diospyros L.) is a plant that occurs naturally in the tropics. It comes from China and Japan, but these days it’s also grown in the Mediterranean countries. The edible fruit that grows on ebony trees with strong branches and smooth leaves is a berry, just like a grape or a tomato. They are red-orange in color and 2 to 9 cm in diameter with four small leaves on their upper side.
When it comes to the flesh of ripe fruit. it’s as sweet as plum and has a gelatinous consistency. As a rule, they do not have seeds, and their skin is much thinner and edible. When it comes to other varieties of persimmons, not every fruit is ready to eat immediately. Unripe fruits are characterized by a high concentration of tannin, which means that we can eat them only when they lie down a bit and ripen. Currently, wholesale is very popular not only in oriental countries but all over the world. It’s grown in areas with a temperate climate with mild winters and not too hot summers.
Interestingly, according to historical accounts, the persimmon tree is the oldest fruit tree species cultivated thousands of years ago in North China and about 1,300 years ago in Japan. This plant found its way to the European continent during the Crusades in the thirteenth century, and in the nineteenth century, it appeared in the United States, where it was grown by Californian farmers.
Caucasian persimmon – which is its specific variety, comes from south-west Asia and south-east Europe and was already known by the ancient Greeks as “the fruit of the gods”. Ebony leaves are used, among others, in eastern medicine in the treatment of cancer, as well as to reduce blood clotting, lower blood pressure, and cholesterol levels. In fact, hot compresses with persimmon extract are often used to soothe irritated skin and even heal snake bites.
A thousand faces of persimmon
There are two types of persimmon trees in the botany. The fruits belonging to the first of them, grown in Japan, are eaten when they are ripe, soft, and lose their tart taste, while the second type of persimmon ripen on trees for a long time and become edible only when the leaves fall. When not fully ripe, they are hard and crunchy – similar to apples.
So far, people have managed to grow as many as 1000 varieties of this plant! The most popular fruit on the market is the Japanese Persimmon, often called “Sharon fruit” named after Sharon plain in Israel.
Apart from varieties from the Far East, there are also European, Russian, and Ukrainian varieties. The most interesting of them are:
Russian Beauty – with sweet and soft fruits, distinguished by their great resistance to frost
Triumph (Sharon) – with high-quality angular, ribbed fruits that change color from yellow to orange over time
Costata – with beautifully colored leaves and large yellow-orange fruit
American – which has a much higher content of calcium and vitamin C than Asian varieties.
Persimmon – sweetness full of vitamins and antioxidants
Despite the very sweet flesh, persimmons are surprisingly low in calories (a 100-gram portion is only 70 kcal). They have little fat and contain a lot of healthy dietary fiber. The glycemic index of persimmon is 50, so it’s fairly low for such a sweet fruit.
You will also find in them an abundance of vitamins – vitamin A, B vitamins (vitamin B1, B2, B3, B6, and B9), vitamin C, E, and K. In addition to ascorbic acid, persimmons provide us with many other powerful antioxidants. They are a valuable source of protein, carbohydrates, catechins, gallocatechin, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin. Each of these compounds has an anti-radical effect, reducing oxidative stress, delaying the aging process, and protecting us against cancer. Persimmon is also rich in betulinic acid, which is a very powerful weapon against cancer, and zeaxanthin – a carotenoid that prevents macular degeneration in the eye.
Need some more convincing? Persimmon provides us with many essential minerals – zinc, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, potassium, sodium, calcium, and iron. An adequate supply of these ingredients protects us against pathogenic microorganisms, supports the work of many enzymes, and supports the process of the formation of red blood cells. All of this contained in small, orange fruit, isn’t it fascinating.
|Persimmon||Content in 100 g||Content in 168 g (1 fruit)|
|Energy value||70 kcal||118 kcal|
|Protein||0,58 g||0,97 g|
|Carbohydrates||18,59 g||31,2 g|
|Fiber||3,60 g||6,05 g|
|Vitamin C||7,50 mg||12,60 mg|
|Vitamin A||1,627 i.u.||2,733 i.u.|
|Vitamin E||0,73 mg||1,23 mg|
|Vitamin K||2,60 µg||4,37 µg|
|Zinc||0,11 mg||0,19 mg|
|Phosphorus||17,00 mg||28,6 mg|
|Magnesium||9,00 mg||15,12 mg|
|Copper||0,11 mg||0,19 mg|
|Potassium||161 mg||270 mg|
|Calcium||8,00 mg||13,44 mg|
|Iron||0,15 mg||0,25 mg|
Health benefits of persimmon
Persimmon, thanks to the content of biologically active substances, has an anti-cancer effect. Research shows that persimmons in the diet of leukemia patients can inhibit the growth of cancer cells. That’s because the substances it contains can cause the death of the diseased cells or stop their growth. The experiment showed that after a 3-day treatment with persimmon extract and other compounds from the group of polyphenols, the programmed death of cells affected by cancer occurs. This significantly increases the chances of a patient’s recovery.
The vitamins in persimmon also strengthen the immune system and slow down the aging process of the body. The high content of antioxidants and dietary fiber has a positive effect on the circulatory system by regulating the body’s lipid metabolism (by reducing total and LDL cholesterol). The compounds found in the fruit also regulate the concentration of triglycerides in the blood.
Vitamin C contained in persimmon covers 80% of the daily requirement for this substance. Ascorbic acid significantly increases the efficiency of our immune system and stimulates the production of white blood cells – the body’s main line of defense against viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. If you feel like you’re deficient in this powerful vitamin, persimmon is a perfect choice.
Persimmon fruits are also recommended for people struggling with anemia, as they increase the absorption of iron, and in chronic stress, because they improve the work of the nervous system.
As a cherry on top, persimmon will also take care of the beautiful appearance of our skin. The richness of antioxidants effectively inhibits the aging process, This, in turn, keeps the skin smooth, firm, and moisturized.
How to pick the right persimmon fruit
You might be wondering – how do I choose the perfectly ripe fruit from the many persimmons available in the store? Which one will have the most nutritional value?
When choosing a persimmon fruit in the store, first of all, pay attention to its skin – is it smooth, elastic, free from damage, and discoloration? Obviously, it’s best to choose fully ripe persimmon to reap all the benefits. If there are only harder ones to pick, though, you can put them aside for a few days. During this time, they should mature and soften. Remember to store the fruit in the refrigerator – then you can be sure that it will stay fresh for several weeks.
How to eat them – persimmon in the kitchen
Persimmon can be eaten fresh, dried, or cooked. Before eating the fruit, wash it and tear off the leaves. You can enjoy the fruit with the skin if it is soft enough (after cleaning, of course), although the fruit tastes good after peeling as well – just cut it in half and eat it with a spoon. Kaki has no seeds so you don’t need to worry about them.
The taste of ripe persimmons is very sweet, so it can be an interesting addition to many dishes. Dried kakis are suitable for cakes, puddings, salads, or as a snack. A persimmon cocktail with the addition of other fruits is a great idea for a dessert or lunch as well. The fruit also goes well with cheeses like feta. They are also suitable for preserves or mousses. You can easily find a ton of recipes using persimmon on websites or blogs. My absolute favorite recipes come from this brit+co blog post, you will definitely find something that fits you there.
As you can see, persimmon is without a doubt a fruit that’s worth adding to your diet as it’s packed with all kinds of health benefits. I recommend them especially for the fall-winter season to provide your body with all the good vitamins and minerals that persimmon has to offer. It’s one of those fruits that one can easily fall in love with.