Known in Greek as “the food of the gods,” the vibrant orange persimmon reaches its peak as temperatures cool in late November. Persimmons come in two commercial varieties, the hachiya and the fuyu. The hachiya persimmon is the most common of the varieties, accounting for the vast majority of persimmons sold in the United States. The acorn-shaped hachiya is best eaten when bright orange and soft, with a sweet jelly-like texture. Because of their strong acidic flavor and odd texture, hachiya persimmons are used mostly for baking, though they can be consumed raw.

Though not as popular, the fuyu variety (pictured at left), which resembles a tomato, has a sweeter, less acidic taste and can be enjoyed while it is still firm. Fuyu persimmons are often served raw, by themselves or as a lively addition to a fruit salad.

Most persimmons are sold before they have ripened to preserve their shelf life. They ripen quickly and are only enjoyable for a few days after they ripen. To keep persimmons fresh, they may be stored in the refrigerator before they are allowed to ripen at room temperature. Persimmons may also be frozen and allowed to defrost and ripen.

Here are some great persimmon recipes to enjoy with both varieties:

Spinach with Fuyu Persimmon and Prosciutto
4 oz. spinach
1 fuyu persimmon (peeled, pitted and chopped into bite-sized pieces)
8 oz. prosciutto (cut into strips)
Blue cheese crumbles
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Red Wine Vinegar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Wash spinach and place in a large bowl. Add persimmon, prosciutto and blue cheese. In a separate bowl, mix olive oil, vinegar, lemon, salt and pepper. Pour over salad.

(I added a little red onion and some French bread croutons to this for a bit of extra crunch, and you can also add nuts, such as pistachios.)

Fall Fruit Salad
1 fuyu persimmon, peeled and cubed
1 kiwi, peeled and cubed
8 oz. pomegranate seeds
1 Golden Delicious (or similarly sweet) apple, peeled and cubed
1 bunch red grapes
1 tbsp. lemon juice

Peel and cube persimmon, kiwi and apple. Mix in large bowl with pomegranate seeds and grapes. Sprinkle lemon juice on top and toss.

Persimmon Cookies from Allrecipes.com, using Hachiya Persimmons.

Compiled and written by Rachel Bunn.