What to Do with a Million Persimmons (Spoiler Alert: Freeze Them)

A few days after Thanksgiving, my mother brought over two huge sacks of Hachiya persimmons. They were in varying stages of ripeness and decay. I had bronchitis, so I wasn’t really in the baking mood or in any mood to deal with loads of perishing fruit, so they sat on our kitchen table for a week. I left them for too long, and it turned out my mom had two more sacks to bring over that she’d been hauling around in the trunk of her car! I got a second chance– but I was still sick and could not deal with all of those persimmons. And, it turns out, even though a few of them were rotting, most of them weren’t ripe.

My husband, who’s heard me wax rhapsodic about persimmons, tried one and said it wasn’t very good. He’s not a fruit bat like me, so I had to explain to him that you’re supposed to eat Fuyus out of hand– not Hachiyas, unless they’re completely soft and rotten looking. His response? “Yeah, because it wasn’t very good,” and he made a face again. I’m still not sure he understands what “out of hand” means, and since he’s not really a fruit person, I don’t think I’ll explain it again unless he asks! We’ve had the same conversation about apples, too, but he was probably thinking about amps and pedals the whole time. That’s okay, because a lot of the time, when I’ve reached the saturation point about amps (pedals I understand, amps not so much) I tend to think about what I would like to do to the yard, or about dinner.

A few days ago, though, I decided to sort through them. I didn’t want to waste a second batch of these guys, since you can only have persimmons once a year. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, and all that.

Most recipes for cookies or breads call for two cups of persimmons (or bananas), and I realized that these bags far exceeded the recipes, and as I still had bronchitis, I wasn’t up to more than one batch of something. So, that meant I had two problems: too many persimmons, and too many unripe persimmons. And I suppose the third problem was that I was a little stir crazy and really wanted something sweet.

Look at all of these persimmons drying in Japan! I will have to research a bit and find out what they do with them all. Eating? Cooking? It's so pretty.
Look at all of these persimmons drying in Japan! I will have to research a bit and find out what they do with them all. Eating? Cooking? It’s so pretty.

My mom told me she’d heard that freezing persimmons ripened them up. I wondered, why not? Freezing a banana makes it mushy when defrosted– but would it sweeten the persimmon? Or would it still have that scratchy, mouth shriveling power when frozen to a mush? There was only one way to find out. I froze two (roughly two cups). Online, I found many recipes that said to preserve persimmons by adding lemon juice to the pulp when freezing it– but that was for already ripened fruit that you needed to keep. I tried that on the ones that were already ripe, and those are still in my freezer, actually. The lemon juice keeps them a lovely color, even in their baggies.

Then I defrosted two of the whole persimmons the next day. Sure enough, after an hour or two, they were the perfect softness. Perfectamundo!

Even better? If you let them defrost long enough, they slip straight out of their skins, no peeling required. As far as I can tell, there are no drawbacks to freezing persimmons in any stage of ripeness (because I froze a bunch of patchily ripe and hard-as-a-rock ones, too). Just slice off the top where the stem is, then squeeze the fruit out of its skin– it slips out in one plop– into a waiting bowl. I tasted them and they were sweet, not scratchy. Mash with a fork or hand blender– I used a potato masher, because I didn’t feel like dragging out a hand blender.

Now, instead of hunting around on the internet in an absolute panic for every persimmon recipe you can find, you can take your time! Make a persimmon bread every few weeks, or get experimental and make a pudding, or try drying them (I mandolined some while they were still frozen, which works, but they will turn to soup as soon as they finish defrosting. It’s like Logan’s Run, but with fruit). I have to admit, I’m not sure how long they keep in the freezer, but they have been sitting in there since early December and I just used some last week. They were just as good as the ones I’d frozen merely experimentally overnight. Is it possible that I’ve inverted the usual problem of what to do with all my persimmons? It is! Now I have to figure out how to make them last until next November.

 

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