Eat with the seasons and celebrate the arrival of autumn with these simple yet impressive persimmon recipes, perfect for entertaining with ease.
Not only are persimmons a fantastic snack all by themselves thanks to a subtle, sweet flavour and tantalising texture, but they also add a wonderful nutritious boost to sweet and savoury dishes. Persimmons are loaded almost twice the dietary fibre of an apple and hold higher levels of many minerals and antioxidants.
Aussie persimmons spring to life from orchards across Australia from the end of February until mid-June, signalling the return of one of Australia's best kept secrets.
1.5-2kg whole free range chicken
1 bouquet garni (3 sprigs parsley, 2 bay leaves, 10 sprigs thyme
or 2 sprigs rosemary)
1 lemon pierced all over with a paring knife
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 carrots, roughly chopped
2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
2 medium brown onions, roughly chopped
1 head garlic, cloves separated but unpeeled
4 ripe but firm sweet persimmons, peeled, quartered, tossed in olive oil
150ml dry white wine
50g unsalted butter
1 red eschallot or small onion, peeled diced finely
50g bacon (speck or ham is also good)
150g puy or French style lentils
400ml stock or water (you might need more)
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley
Juice of 1/2 - 1 lemon OR to taste
Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 240ºC. Let the chicken sit out of the fridge for 30 minutes before cooking.
Begin by oiling a baking dish and then covering with the carrot, celery, onion and garlic.
To prepare the chicken, pat the skin dry with kitchen towel. Stuff the cavity of the chicken with the bouquet garni and lemon, then cross its legs at the knuckles and tie firmly with kitchen string. Rub olive oil, salt and pepper thoroughly over the entire surface of the skin, then place it on top of the vegetables and aromatics. Reduce the temperature to 190ºC and roast for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the chicken from the oven, scatter the persimmons around the chicken and return to the oven for a further 30 minutes. Transfer the chicken and persimmons onto a serving dish.
To make the gravy, scrape all the contents of the baking dish including any crispy, burnt bits, into a colander, collecting the baking juices in a medium saucepan. Discard the vegetables but you might want to keep the soft, sweet flesh of a few of the garlic cloves to mix into the gravy. Remove 1/4 cup of the gravy liquid and mix with 2 tsp of plain flour. Return to the saucepan with the white wine, mix and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until thickened. Transfer to a gravy boat ready for serving.
To make the lentils, heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, until foaming. Add the eschallots and bacon and cook until the eschallots are soft. Add the lentils and sauté for a few seconds before adding the stock or water and cook until tender. Remove from heat and stir in the parsley, lemon, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and remove from heat until ready to serve.
Note: Instead of roasting the persimmons, you could dice 2 peeled persimmons and fold through the lentil mixture at the same time as the parsley.
Sweet Persimmons (non-astringent)
Sweet persimmons are the most commonly found variety and account for nearly 95% of production.
Round in shape with a diameter of around 10cm. The fruit has a slightly flattened top that holds the green stem (calyx) and ranges in colour from pale orange to a deep red-orange.
Best eaten crunchy and firm like an apple but can be left till mushy and soft, like the original persimmon.
Has a refreshingly sweet and mild flavour.
Original Persimmons (astringent)
Large, heart shaped fruits, ranging in colour from pale orange to deep red-orange.
Needs to be harvested once fully mature.
Ready for eating when the flesh is soft, jelly-like and sweet. If you taste astringency you need to allow the fruit to ripen further.
Good source of vitamin C and beta carotene, high in fibre and fat free.
A sweet persimmon contains almost twice the dietary fibre of an apple and higher levels of many minerals and antioxidants.
Selecting and Storing
When it comes to persimmons, there is no one colour to look for. Fruit can range in shade from a pale orange to a deep red-orange, depending upon variety and stage of the season.
Despite being firm to the touch, handle persimmons with care as the thin skin is delicate and bruises easily.
Most persimmons will have small blemishes on their surface, but this will not affect the crisp exciting flesh inside.
Choose sweet persimmons that still have green, semi-pliable caps.
Put the persimmon in a paper bag with a couple of bananas to speed up the ripening process.
Persimmons will keep out of the fridge for up to five days.
How to Cut
The star method: hold the persimmon on the side and cut across and you will see the star in side.
The apple method: cut out the core (calyx) and quarter.
To view celebrity cook Poh Ling Yeow's cutting demonstrations visit our YouTube account here.
How to Use
As part of a cheese plate. Cut persimmons using the star method.
In a salad. Toss thin slices of persimmons through salad leaves and top with shavings of parmesan, toasted almonds, a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic.
As a snack. Cut, quarter like an apple, or serve with yoghurt and nuts.
For serving suggestions visit the Persimmons Australia here.
Seasonality & Production
Persimmons are in season from late February to mid June (Autumn to Winter) and are available in supermarkets, and all good fruit stores.
Queensland is the major producing state but harvesting also occurs in coastal NSW, the Goulburn and Murray valleys in VIC and SA as well as south west WA.
Southern Queensland accounts for 50% of production.
Commercial production of original persimmons is generally confined to regions around Sydney and in Victoria.
Australia produces less than 1 per cent of world production. However, production is on the rise here with new plantings in New South Wales and Victoria driving industry growth.
Sweet persimmons (non-astringent) were introduced to Australia in the late 1970s and now comprise of nearly 90 per cent of local production.
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