We often drop the word persimmon because of the various misconceptions and confusion with the native American persimmon grown in the South or the more common pointed Hachiya persimmon. Both of these must be very soft to be eaten. They are astringent varieties and do not lose their astringency until the fruit becomes soft. If eaten when firm, they will pucker the mouth and cause a very unfavorable reaction!
The Fuyu is a non-astringent variety. It is sweet and delicious when it has become orange to orange-red in color and is still firm. The traditional use of the Fuyu is to eat it out of hand. After harvest, the Fuyu will stay firm two to three weeks if kept at room temperature and will gradually soften like the Hachiya variety. Many people feel it is sweeter at a somewhat spongy stage, so it has a long useable time. Some people use the Fuyu in American persimmon recipes for cookies and pudding.
Persimmons botanically belong to the family Ebenaceae, the ebony family. The Fuyu is of the genus Diospyros, species kaki. Dios means God and pyros means grain or food, hence the reference to persimmons as food for the gods. The Fuyu is an acceptable gift to Buddha.
It is thought the Fuyu originated in China. It has been grown in Asia for many centuries gradually spreading around the world. It is grown and revered in many of the countries of the Orient. You may sometimes hear them referred to as Japanese persimmons or oriental persimmons.
The Fuyu is a nutritious addition to our diets. A nutritionist, Jinny Elder of EnergyEnt in Carlsbad, met with the association board to provide updated nutitional information on the Fuyu persimmon. She can be reached at EnergyEnt@aol.com. A six ounce fruit provides 130 calories of food energy. The Fuyu is high in Vitamin A and rich in beta carotene. It is a good source of Vitamin C and fiber. It provides certain essential amino acids. The Fuyu provides one to two fruit servings depending on size. It helps us meet the minimal goal of eating five fruits and vegetables a day, the recommended U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
The Fuyu was brought to California in the early part of this century. With the immigration of people from Japan, China, the Philippines, and most recently Southeast Asia, the demand for the Fuyu has grown. The acreage in California has increased as farmers seek alternative crops to grow.
Americans are looking at foods from around the world and have found the Fuyu to be a delightful fruit. Now we would like to introduce your students and their families to a fruit that is highly nutritious and delicious. Many supermarkets are stocking the Fuyu in their specialty foods section. It is commonly available at farmers and Asian markets from October to December.
California Fuyu Growers Association
P.O. Box 1301 Valley Center, CA 92082