A fuyu persimmon is a tasty and nutritious fruit that was so valued by the people of ancient Greece that they dubbed it “the food of the gods.” That is a pretty potent label for a mere fruit, but people who have come to love the fuyu persimmon say it has earned the moniker because of its rich sweetness. Many types of persimmons are available, but the fuyu has its own distinct attributes, including the heady sweetness that is present to different degrees when it is both ripe and not fully ripened. Other varieties of persimmon fruit are not nearly as sweet before they are fully ripe and have been known to make a taster’s mouth pucker because of their astringency.
The size of the fuyu persimmon is similar to a very small pumpkin or miniature gourd, and it can fit in an adult’s palm. The orange fruit grows well in warmer regions, but other areas with colder climates must import the fuyu.
The fuyu persimmon was originally found in China, where it grew for centuries, and it went on to become popular with farmers in Japan, where the persimmon is known as kaki. Its popularity spread across the Pacific Ocean when the fruit was introduced to Californians in the 19th century. Farmers today grow it in a number of places around the world. It is still a valuable fruit crop in China and Japan, and it also is grown commercially in Israel, Brazil and Korea. The Israelis have given it the name “Sharon fruit.”
An average-size fuyu persimmon contains about 120 calories and it has very little fat content. It is rich in fiber, antioxidants, manganese and vitamin A. The fruit also is a good source of calcium, potassium, vitamin C and several B vitamins. The fuyu can be enjoyed fresh and plain or cooked, and it can be used to sweeten smoothies. In China, the fuyu is also eaten dried, which gives it a candy-like flavor. Some people even poach the fuyu, and others make persimmon pudding, while some cooks like to include persimmons in fruit salad, artichoke salad, black bean salad, cranberry sauce, chutney, couscous salad, bundt cakes, salsa and spinach salad.