Persimmons are an unsung jewel of fall and winter fruits, with their bright orange skin and sweet, rich flavor. There are two varieties commercially available, including smaller, rounder Fuyu persimmons, which have a crisp texture and are best used raw. Hachiya persimmons, distinguished by their heart shape, are a better choice for baking. Avoid ruining your recipe with the sharp, acidic flavor of unripe persimmons, by allowing the fruit to ripen slowly at room temperature. Once your persimmons are ripe, you’re ready to start baking.
Buy persimmons that feel heavy for their size and have dark, shiny skin without any cracks or blemishes. Ideally, all four of the persimmon's leaves should be green and attached.
Place your persimmons upside down on the counter or another spot where they'll be out of your way while they ripen. Let them sit at room temperature until they are very soft. This may take several days or up to several weeks.
Remove the persimmons' leaves and skin using a sharp knife. Transfer the fruit to a bowl and lightly mash it, checking for any seeds before mashing it thoroughly with a masher or a fork. Alternatively, you can puree the persimmons using a food processor or a blender.
Mix the persimmon puree with the rest of your ingredients. You can follow an established recipe, or experiment by adding persimmon puree to your favorite recipe for cookies, cakes, pies, breads or pudding.
Enjoy the fruits of your labor for months to come. Make at least twice as much persimmon puree as you need for your single recipe, freezing the extra puree in several airtight containers or freezer bags.
Speed up the time it takes for your persimmons to ripen by placing in a paper bag with a banana or an apple. Fold the top of the bag down to close it tightly and leave it at room temperature, turning the fruit every day or two.
Experiment with your recipes by dicing Fuyu persimmons and adding them to your batter. Although Hachiyas are reputed to be the best for baking, you may also enjoy having a textural difference by adding the firmer Fuyus, which can be used skin and all.