Foods and Wines

Persimmons, the fruit of the gods

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It has recently arrived in Canada but it has been popular in other cultures for centuries before arriving here. Long before making its appearance in Europe and America, persimmons have always been greatly appreciated in the Far East due to their beneficial properties and their flavour. Since they become ripe at the beginning of the year, they are often eaten in New Year’s Festival and Celebrations.

The lovely persimmon tree has a beautiful appearance which made it very popular in Valencia, Spain, where they kept the trees as decoration and ate the fruit. The properties of the wood soon became popular and the plantations increased, and so did the popularity of the fruit soon after. Its sweet flavour and soft texture made reasonable that its name in Greek is Diospyros, fruit of the gods.

Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked. Depending on the type of persimmon they can be eaten at the moment you purchase them or you have to wait for them to ripen. Spanish persimmons, also called vanilla persimmons, arrive here ready to be consumed. They are big, orange and fleshy and they do not have seeds. They are great as a healthy snack. Their flesh is hard and juicy so they can be eaten as apples or they can be the main ingredient of a pie or a salad. Persimmon marmalade, compote and pudding are also very popular recipes.

In the last few years, its visibility throughout the world can be explained by two main reasons: its sweetness and its health benefits. In East Asia, there are many medical documents assuring that persimmons are good for your stomach, throat, spleen and intestines.

Recently, many studies have shown that persimmons can be beneficial for high pressure, heart diseases and diabetes. The American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society, published a study comparing the contents of dietary fiber, total phenolics and minerals in persimmons and apples. The results showed that persimmons contain a higher percentage of all three than apples, so we could change the age-old saying to: “a persimmon a day keeps the doctor away”.

Picture: Fernando Madariaga/ICEX (Pix of Spain)

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