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Persimmons in the Fall

Ewa Nowogorski

In Japan during the fall season, there isn’t really a culture of carving pumpkins and celebrating Halloween by setting Jack-o-lanterns outside your home. Instead, a different orange food greets you everywhere you go. That is the persimmon. The warm climate of Japan allows persimmon trees to thrive, and they grow as prolifically as apple trees do in northern North America.

These sweet, soft fruits are popular both fresh and dried, and you can find them being sold all over grocery stores from late September until late November.

There are numerous varieties of persimmon available, and each has its own unique flavor. Some persimmons can be very sweet, while others are so astringent that they are pretty much inedible in their raw form. But something magical happens when these astringent persimmons are peeled and dried. They become sweet. In fact, on some varieties, persimmons will appear to become moldy white as they are drying, but that mold is actually sugar crystallizing outside around the fruit. This crystallization is the mark of the perfect dried persimmon.

Fresh persimmons are relatively cheap when in season, but dried fruits can be very expensive, reaching around 300 yen per dried fruit for the higher end fruits. However, I highly recommend eating one if you ever get the chance to.

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