19 Nov2006

Kaki / Asian Persimmon

by Marketman


I have only eaten persimmons 2 or 3 times before… I did some work up in Korea many years back and they were a big deal there…one of those fruits that were presented in beautiful fruit baskets that cost an arm and two toes. Recently, some of Market Manila’s readers have asked if persimmons were available here and I answered that they seemed to be rarely available, but I have suddenly seen them in several venues across town! It must be the height of the season and they are sought after by a discerning group of local persimmon lovers. I bought one yesterday that was ripe and ready for eating. It cost PHP50 for one piece! I chilled it in the fridge for a couple of hours and ate it. It was quite sweet, juicy and flavorful, something like a cross between a melon, a pear and some other flavors thrown in. I liked it enough but perhaps I have to have several more before they make a lasting impression. I also found the one that I ate was a tad mushy, perhaps it was a day or two overripe.

Asian persimmons or Kaki (Diospyros kaki) are mostly cultivated in Japan though pers2they seem to have originated in China. They are different from North American persimmons. North American persimmons got their name from the Algonquin Indian name putchamin (according to Elizabeth Schneider) and the English term is now applied to the Asian fruit as well. Apparently, they are also widely enjoyed in a dried form in Japan (fruits are strung up and dried and as they get dehydrated, they flatten into disks). These are enjoyed throughout the cold months in the same way dried apricots might be in the West… I have never had them dried. If I am not mistaken, the persimmon in these photos is a Fuyu persimmon, a variety that looks very much like a bright orange tomato! Bizarrely, in a “I learned something today moment,” these wonderful juicy fruit are a relative of our own more tropical Mabolo (according to Oxford Companion to Food by Alan Davidson), despite the difference in appearance and pulp/taste.



  1. Sandra says:

    At a Martha Stewart program several years ago, she featured persimmons. Apparently the Japanese brought them to California and, today, the fruit sold around the United States are from there. They come in two varieties whose names I can’t recall. But a lot of people I know are crazy about them. They taste like our star apple.

    Nov 19, 2006 | 9:07 pm

  2. Marketman says:

    Sandra, it seems there are also native North American persimmons or Diospyros virginiana or native to the North Eastern region of the United States, and where they got their name from the Algonquin Indians. However, in recent decades, the Japanese/Chinese variety have taken over and yes, they were brought by the Japanese and are now cultivated in California and dominate the North American market. For Japanese Kaki or persimmons, there are two main varieties, hachiya and fuyu (the latter the ones in the photo above, I think). All this info from my trusty Alan Davidson book.

    Nov 19, 2006 | 9:14 pm

  3. bijin says:

    hi, i have persimmon overload in my house now that’s it the season. they’re about 50 cents at the farmer’s market but you could easily pay $1.50 somewhere else. anything local in japan is expensive! there’s so many trees around brimming with fruits and a sight to behold.
    a friend just gave me a bag full. some are almost too sweet for me so i like it with a little bit of lemon juice or plain yogurt.
    the ones that are dried are the bitter persimmons. they’re quite expensive – like $2.00 a piece and i can easily eat 3 or 5 depending on the size. they’re soooo good! i might try drying them myself but so easy to just buy….
    we have different varieties and even seedless ones which are very good but which i try to avoid since they’ve been genetically altered.

    Nov 19, 2006 | 10:16 pm

  4. connie says:

    I’ve only tried the Kaki variety but like MM, they don’t leave any indelible impression on my taste buds that makes me crave for them. I guess one of the reasons may have been that it doesn’t have a distinctive smell as well. I’m one of those people that you have to tickle my sense of smell to appreciate my food. *laughs* Although Kaki can be eaten hard or soft, unlike Hachiya, which I’ve found out have to me almost liquid to be edible, I prefer eating the Kaki variety firm.
    As far as Mabolo, I didn’t know it’s a distant cousin of persimmons. My old grade school had a huge tree right next to the gate, the ripe mabolo smell greets you when you come in. It’s a treat come harvest time, each one of us kids get a fruit, now that smell and taste I miss.

    Nov 19, 2006 | 10:29 pm

  5. kimmie says:

    Our language shool is situated in Jinyoung http://engtour.gimhae.go.kr/01/06_01_03.jsp?mmain=1&pagenum=6&subnum=1, the persimmon town of Korea. Since about 70% of Korea is mountaineous, the persimmon orchards are in the mountains and privately ownned. Fall is simply breathtaking with the symphony of colours flashing It is a 26.1 Billion Won industry and we have just celebrated the Persimmon Festival a couple of weeks ago. There are two varities the astringent type and the non astringent type.
    The former can’t be eaten unitill it has fully ripen winto a custard-like consistency. It has as the most amazing flavour similar to the one that MM got only alot better. Most Koreans
    dried it with pine nuts which taste really divine; serve as it is or made into persimmon punch. The latter called “Dang Gam” here, is the one shown in the picture and can be eaten from firm to really soft. Right now persimmons are really cheap a box with about 20-30 pcs depending on the size can be had for 10T won which is about $11.

    Nov 19, 2006 | 11:04 pm

  6. kimmie says:

    oops……sorry for the typos and the phrase about fall should have been deleted. anyhow i trust the, info has been of use to some. again really sorry.

    Nov 19, 2006 | 11:11 pm

  7. MRJP says:

    Thank you for featuring this fruit, MM. Back in Makati, I’ve always seen these fruits in the fruit sections of the mall’s grocery departments, ‘been always curious about it but never had the courage to try it. Now at least I know what to expect if I’d try it, one of these days.
    Another fruit which I’m so curious about is this pomegranate, which, I dont know if, is available (and dont remember seeing) in Manila.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 12:10 am

  8. ntgerald says:

    Pomegranate is available in Manila.

    But, as with the persimmon, I would rather eat lanzones from Camiguin, mangosteen, mango, or pumelo (suha) from Davao.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 12:25 am

  9. fried-neurons says:

    The persimmon in the pic looks a bit different (inside) from the ones I am familiar with here in CA. Either that, or they’re overripe. :-)

    Re: pomegranate – isn’t that what we call “granada” in the Philippines?

    Nov 20, 2006 | 1:32 am

  10. tulip says:

    I think persimmons (and dragon fruits) have been available for the past 5-6 years in Metro Manila. I have seen it in few markets and supermarkets. I first purchased it locally at the Hi-Top Supermarket in Quezon City, SM and Rustan’s offer it from time to time too.

    There is quite a difference with Asian grown persimmons and those from North America, whether of the same Asian variety or not. Those available locally is good but the price isn’t justifiable for the fruit’s juiciness. I enjoy the ones from California, tends to be sweeter, juicier, flavorful and firmer. But since they come readily available from the backyard, that may have some influence with the outcome.

    I liked the Korean persimmon tea I had several years ago. Never seen it available in Manila. I forgot what it was called then.

    The ones Marketman got is indeed Fuyu persimmon with rounded bottom. One of the differences between Hachiya from Fuyu is it has a pointed end,acorn shaped.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 2:07 am

  11. tulip says:

    Pomegranate is called granada/granadas here. Actually a Spanish name.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 2:12 am

  12. stefoodie says:

    i LOVE persimmons, but hardly ever eat them fresh. we always peel them then freeze them, and eat them 5 minutes after they come out of the freezer (so we can actually bite into them). if i’m not mistaken, japanese allow them to freeze on the tree and eat them that way.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 3:51 am

  13. MRJP says:

    Thanks guys for enlightening me about pomegranate. I dont know why even the “granada” that you’re talking about, is an unknown fruit to me. Haven’t seen one in the Philippines. Is that a rare fruit in Manila? I have seen pomegranate here in the US though. Ooopps, sorry for hi-jacking this thread about persimmon with my pomegranate curiousity.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 3:51 am

  14. lojet says:

    I favor the other type also called Israeli persimmon. It is quite flat with lobes not a smooth surface. It is sweet even before it gets soft and I like to eat it at that stage, which is a little crunchy. It is loaded with nutrients and antioxidants and is under study for use in preventing arteriosclerosis and cardiovascular disease. More info here.


    Nov 20, 2006 | 7:03 am

  15. nikka says:

    So THATS what it was! The mom of a Korean student gave me some peeled, sliced persimmons the other day. Not bad, really. Sweet, but not full of flavor.

    PS. Off topic, but have you ever tried frozen cantaloupe? I cubed up a melon that was close to becoming over ripe and stuck it in the freezer to chill. I forgot about it and they froze! I had a few cubes yesterday and they are fantastic! Small joys. :)

    Nov 20, 2006 | 8:22 am

  16. linda says:

    Persimmon trees are in abundance in almost everybody’s backyard here in South Australia.The persimmon season is about now to March next year(it’s almost summer now).Two major varieties are astringent(mapakla),and the vanilla (sweet and delicious – almost like a star apple).The astringent ones are left on the tree until it’s soft and squishy. The vanilla ones are delicious and we sometimes served it in a salad or salsa or just sliced in wedges and eaten fresh.Sarap!

    Nov 20, 2006 | 8:25 am

  17. Mel Dizon says:

    Kaki (Japanese persimon) is best when it is still firm. It is ripe when it begins to emit that unique persimon scent very much like our chico.

    A mushy persimon is a wasted one and I wonder how it will be like juiced in a blender.

    Persimons sell Tokyo supermarkets at peak season at the start of fall for about Yen 120 for a medium size (5 cm diameter)medium quality (not too sweet and a bit watery) piece.

    Do you know that the persimon color of Shinto Temple arches get it from the juice of persimons! That could be what they do with wasted persimons.

    If someone can cross the flavor and scent of our chico with the color and texture of our mango…

    Nov 20, 2006 | 8:40 am

  18. connie says:

    MRJP, when I was back home I don’t think I’ve ever seen granada sold in the local market. I just know the fruit because our neighbor had them. I saw some in the store today for $1.99 a fruit. I think I’ll wait until they’re in abundance and a bit cheaper.
    They are a pain to prepare but well worth it. I usually like adding them to salads, usually spinach for the extra crunch.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 8:52 am

  19. fried-neurons says:

    Oh, I almost forgot… for persimmons that have gone overripe, and are too mushy to eat fresh, you can use them to make persimmon bread. Yum.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 9:20 am

  20. Didi says:

    I miss this fruit! I was able to taste this for the first time while I was still studying in Beijing – which was 4 years ago! They persimmons that I tasted were so soft and sweet!! Yummy!!

    Nov 20, 2006 | 10:00 am

  21. cwid says:

    I love persimmons. They remind me so much of chico which I really miss. I can see how persimmons are related to mabolo but the persimmons I have tasted are crisp (I don’t let them get too ripe) and not “malabo” like the mabolo. They’re cheap right now —about 99 cents Cdn per pound.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 10:04 am

  22. Mila says:

    I’m a persimmon fan, fresh and dried. My sister lives in Roseville, a suburb of Sacramento, near several of the Japanese-American owned farms that cultivate and sell fresh and dry persimmons. She buys them by the kilo and sends them over, I love munching on them instead of raisins or prunes.

    There was a great article about the dying breed of Japanese-American farmers drying the fruit the traditional way, which allows the natural sugars to crystallize. Leaves you feeling nostalgic for something that is not yet gone.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 10:29 am

  23. C says:

    I love persimmons!!! I’ve always been hesitant to buy persimmons in manila coz I’m not sure if it will be as good as the ones that I get from Japan or the US. But from your post, it seems that we get good persimmons here. So, where did you get those 50-peso fruits? Thanks!

    Nov 20, 2006 | 12:03 pm

  24. Malou See says:

    That’s what I love about reading food blogs…you learn new things everyday. I have been eating this fruit for almost 35 yrs of my life…and I dont know what it’s called. I usually, called this Sweet tomatoes =) bec the shape is really similar to a ripe tomatoes. Usually, this is abundant before the Chinese New Year, my mom never runs out of these during the celebration. Thanks MM for sharing this info. So next time I’m going to hunt for these tomatoes,I mean, Persimmons…wont have to drag my mom to buy me one..will just go straight and said it with gleeing eyes.

    Nov 20, 2006 | 2:05 pm

  25. anna says:

    oooh! i just bought some persimmons in divisoria last week. a pack (4 persimmons) costs 75 pesos for the crunchy kind and 70 for the soft kind. yum! yum!

    Nov 20, 2006 | 3:47 pm

  26. i'lltaketwoplease says:

    My family and I LOVE persimmons! This is the fruit I would bring back home to Guam during the fall and holiday months, whereas I would bring cherries if I came to visit during the summer. Cheaper, abundant and better fruit here in the mainland, and not banned through customs.

    When I lived in Northern California, we actually had a tree growing in our back yard, and was abundant with fruit, which only the dog would pay attention to when they fell to the ground. I don’t think I ever tasted the persimmons from that tree.

    Only eat the “Fuyu” variety, which are the ones similar to the picture you have above, where the top and bottom is flat. The “Hachiya” one is rounder and pointed on the bottom is extremely starchy sticky and unpleasant like glue. Is “mapakla” the correct term? I saw it in a comment above, and I think that’s what my mom describes the Hachiya ones. I believe the latter is ripened on the trees in China to a very mushy consistency and slurped up like a thick juice.

    How we like to eat the Fuyu type is at a very crunchy and firm stage and refrigerated. I only really eat them when my mom is around as she peels and quarters them with a paring knife, and I don’t have the patience to do that.

    The smell is almost cinnamon-ny and if you look at the flesh, looks like it has some sprinkled on. It should have a nice crunch when you bite into a slice. Definitely peel the skin off!

    I’ve seen the dried ones at Chinese and Korean markets, but I remember not being too fond of them.

    A friend gave me some dehydrated slices of persimmon, kinda like dried banana chips, and they were actually good. A nice snack.

    Try the different varieties of persimmon as well as at different ripe stages. See which you prefer!

    Nov 20, 2006 | 3:56 pm

  27. ThePseudoshrink says:

    I once bought persimmons in Divisoria, and it was the last time…bland and a bit tough (not yet ripe, I guess). I’d go for mabolo anytime…nice pretty color, sweet, and tender. Mabolo brings back fond memories of childhood, when my father would get back from hunting (this sounds bourgeoise, but it’s not, I grew up in a rural area) with loads of mabolo, tikling (a kind of bird), quails, eggs of monitor lizard, and sometimes, the monitor lizard itself!

    Nov 20, 2006 | 4:34 pm

  28. xiao li says:

    Like Malou, persimmons look like tomatoes to me:). My parents will always haul some home from their trip to Xiamen/Fujian. There was once when my mom brought some from their own backyard, and they were the hugest I have ever seen. Incidentally, my mom told me to get the dried persimmon, and boil it with water to make it to a paste to cure this nasty cough I have. It could be one of those mythical home remedies… I believe the fruit and the dried fruit are available in Ongpin, that is when they are in season. I have yet to taste the variety they have here in Beijing. They look yellow orange more than red orange, and biased as I can be, not that tasty!

    Nov 20, 2006 | 10:27 pm

  29. Bay_leaf says:

    they cost 1 Swiss franc here and come from Spain and they are luscious!!! my fave winter fruit, next to mandarines. :)

    Nov 21, 2006 | 11:24 pm

  30. Ted says:

    I’m one of the few that asked if persimmons is available in Manila. Im actually thinking about cultivating it there someday when i actually retire. The tree is almost maintenance free and very hardy and gives plenty of fruit, it can strive in Arizona to Canada so i think it will grow there.

    I think Pinoys will love the non-astringent or the fuyu variety better since you can just munch on them unpeeled. I’ve tried using them for “ensaladas” like the jicama and they are wonderful. Try the crunchy half ripe fuyu with “bagoong” and you’ll find out what you’re missing ;-)

    Nov 22, 2006 | 4:05 am


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