Bright orange persimmons hanging from leafless branches mark the coming of winter in Turkey. Here is all you need to know about eating this fruit in season.
Bright orange persimmons hanging from leafless branches mark the coming of winter in Turkey. Originally from China, persimmons (hurma in Turkish) are actually classified as a berry. Persimmon seeds can be roasted and ground for a coffee extender, and the leaves can be stewed into a tea as a home remedy to boost immunity and blood health. The wood at the heart of persimmon trees is so hard that it can be used to make the heads of golf clubs.
In Turkey, hurma is also the name for dried dates, which is why you’ll sometimes see the fruit listed on menus as Trabzon hurması – a cherry-sized variety that is only found in the Trabzon region. The variety most commonly found in markets is actually the Japanese Kaki, which comes in two types – astringent and non-astringent.
The astringent type can only be eaten when completely ripe and almost gel-like in softness. This variety, called Hachiya, is heart-shaped and contains high amounts of astringents when unripe. An astringent is a chemical that actually dries and shrinks body tissue and is what leaves your tongue feeling furry. Don’t let that put you off though – it turns out that when the fruit is deprived of oxygen the astringency loses its ability to affect our taste buds. At home you can wrap your fruit in cling-film, and that way it will loose its astringency without you having to turn it to mush before you enjoy it.
The non-astringent type, Fuyu, is shaped like a tomato and can be eaten when hard through to very soft. Its insides are speckled brown – the darker the brown, the sweeter the persimmon.
The upside of the mushy texture of Hachiyas is they’re perfect for making preserves and chutneys. The flesh can also be pushed through a sieve and substituted in baking recipes for bananas, as the two fruits have a similar water content. You can try hurma-flavored gelato at MUA Gelatieri d’Italia in Yeniköy. Köybaşı Caddesi No. 126/B, T: 0212 299 84 84.