Making Astringent Persimmon Edible

Trying new things is a healthy part of life. Even the small stuff counts, such as trying a fruit you have never tasted before. You just have to hope the risk of trying new things plays out well and not poorly. I raise you this: sometimes it is both. What happens when you decide to try persimmon for the first time? It turns out something that tastes so good can also make your face and tongue feel funny.

When I buy an apple at the grocery or market, I usually avoid any fruit that are too soft or mushy. Some fruits like peaches should be firm but also have some give, especially when you don’t eat them right away. The same principles for apples and peaches are not necessarily the same for persimmons. When you choose a firm persimmon from the produce section, your first bite may be met with a pleasant tangy flavor, followed immediately by numbness of the lips and tongue. Here is why your odds are better if you choose a soft persimmon.

Astringency and What to Do about It

The difference between most soft and firm persimmons is the astringency. Non-astringent persimmons can be eaten soft or firm. However, astringent persimmons should only be eaten soft or they will need to undergo chemical changes to remove the astringency. What makes a persimmon astringent is its high tannin levels. As an astringent persimmon ripens, those tannin levels will decrease. Though eating unripe, astringent persimmon can result in negative reactions such as digestive problems, ripe and non-astringent varieties can actually improve digestion. The fruit also offers vitamins, minerals, fiber, and immune support.

Chart comparing astringent and non-astringent persimmon varieties. Non-astringent varieties: 'Fuyo' is round and stout; 'Jiro' is squarish, round, and stout. Astringent varieties: 'Tanenashi' is round but long and pointy; 'Hachiya' is large, round, long, and pointy.
From EDIS publication #HS1479: First two columns are non-astringent varieties; last two columns are astringent. Credit: Fariborz Habibi and Ali Sarkhosh, UF/IFAS

Waiting for fruit to ripen may not always be favorable. Instead, there are many actions you can perform on persimmons at home to reduce astringency: peeling and cooking, freezing and thawing, steaming for several hours, using tannin-removing powder, microwaving, or applying lemon juice. See EDIS publication #HS1483, “Alleviating Astringency in Persimmon Fruit for Enhanced Palatability and Consumer Acceptability,” for additional methods, more detailed instructions, and explanations on how these methods will reduce astringency.

One trouble with waiting for fruit to ripen is how short the window of freshness lasts. Drying and dehydration are not only two methods for reducing astringency, but they also help preserve fruit and allow you to conveniently eat the fruit on your own time. Most of the astringency-reducing methods will change the texture of the fruit, and this way is no different. You can expect a soft and chewy product. Learn more about the dehydrating and drying persimmons by reading #HS1483 as well as #HS1479, “Dried Persimmon Fruit: A Year-round Available Product.”

I understand it may be easier to avoid eating fruit which has a chance of giving you an adverse reaction. But then you would risk missing out on something healthy and delicious. Just hear it from this blog, “Persimmons: A Florida Fruit Treasure,” that discusses which cultivars of the fruit to eat and when.

Learn More

Remember to Ask IFAS, where numerous publications share insights and studies on persimmons.

You can also explore related topics such as drying, dehydrating, and freeze-drying methods for other fruits by checking out these EDIS publications: #HS1468, “Freeze-dried Muscadine Grape: A New Product for Health-conscious Consumers and the Food Industry,” and #HS1478, “Dehydrated and Freeze-dried Peach Fruit: A Prolonged Shelf-life Product through Modern Drying Techniques.”


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Posted: May 24, 2024

Category: Health & Nutrition, Horticulture
Tags: Fruits, Health, Nutrition, Persimmons

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