Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Italian Cooking Challenge: Persimmons

Recommended Posts


According to Hathor, persimmons are now officially ripe in Umbria and perfect for breakfast, mixed into yogurt.

This got me thinking, especially after finding an excellent essay on the subject of Italy's persimmons and the different words Italians use for the fruit, depending upon their location; Kyle Phillips mentions "pomi" and "diospri" in addition to "cachi".

Here's the thing. We've been engaged in a rather long-winded and now, rather discursive and repetitive discussion of traditional Italian food and what happens when you deviate from the familiar repertoire. Some of us also miss the collaborative cooking threads that were inspired by Kevin72's year-long project. It might be fun to start another.

So, why not contribute a new dish to the formidable ranks of Italian regional specialties, using an ingredient that is very common in Italy, but rarely cooked in that country? At least, this is what Kyle Phillips says. I'll let someone else correct me if need be.

The point is to make a dish that is clearly informed by Italian tradition, yet deviates in a fresh, new way.

As much as certain high-minded discussions of the relative merits of "national" cuisines tick me off, I have to admit that I'd give the gold star to the French when it comes to pastry. Gelato and the blissful combination of hazelnuts and chocolate redeems Italy, but I am entirely sympathetic with the tradition of ending a meal w a beautiful piece of fruit and a handful of nuts. Dense, jammy crostate are not usually my cup of tea.

So, making a dessert presents the most interesting challenge, as far as I'm concerned. However, why not keep possibilities open-ended just in case someone finds a perfect way to encase the fruit inside a rice ball, or dare I say, unite it with prosciutto e Parmigiana? :wink:

Mostarda's way too obvious, don't you think?

Keep in mind the fact that Italians only have astringent varieties of persimmons, i.e., the kind that need to ripen until very soft before consumption.

So, anyone interested?

A deadline can be established once interest is determined and we can make certain that ripe persimmons are available to participants.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not devoted to persimmons, so feel free to give this thought and perhaps we can change the featured ingredient.

While fennel is commonplace by now, it's something many Americans (for example) did not grow up eating. It's associated with fall and something that might have broader appeal.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to post
Share on other sites

The trick to everything, of course, is that a ripe persimmon very quickly turns into a puree on its own. (At least the ones I always seem to buy.)

How about a Friuliano dish, maybe gnocchi stuffed with persimmon instead susine (plums), tossed with some cinnamon, a little sugar, and some fresh curds? Or, moving to the west, tortelli stuffed with a little crescenza and some persimmon--perhaps even gorgonzola--in a brown-butter sauce with parmigiano?

You could also try a fruit-based risotto--I have a few recipes in my Valdostano cookbooks for things like risotto with fontina, apples and juniper berries, as well as a risotto with wild strawberries--but I've never had much luck with these dishes. The fruit flavors always seem overwhelmed by the saltiness.

I also wonder what persimmons would do to a dish that uses fresh or barely cooked tomatoes. I mention it because I find a little pineapple juice has a surprising effect on tomatoes.

Edited by StevenC (log)
Link to post
Share on other sites

Ah, a chance for me to write an ode to the persimmon! :laugh::laugh:

If only I had an ounce of poet in me.... :wink:

Sorry for the delay in checking in, but once again my internet service needed to rest itself. Apparently when Saturdays and full moons occur at the same time, it is unreasonable to expect internet service.

Ripe persimmons are supposed to turn into a puree when ripe, that is the desired consistency, it's the original pudding in a single serving container.

Yes, with yogurt in the morning, it is on par with a fresh peach.

A simple bowl of persimmon puree/slush served in a lovely dessert dish with a sprinkle of spice on top is divine.

But, how about as a glaze for roasted fowl?? Hmmmm....could be interesting.

I also think the flavor may balance well with balsamic....Weinoo, you around? What about a persimmon balsamic gelato?

I'm not sure about the gnocci thing because of the high water content of the persimmon, but it's worth experimenting with because the flavor combo that StevenC suggests sounds very good.

Grazie, Pontormo! A buon'idea if ever there was one! And why can't we start a fennel thread at the same time? And you know cardoons are coming soon....and porcini.....and...ok, so this might be my favorite time of year! :wub:

Link to post
Share on other sites
I've started vaguely researching this one.  Lots of sweets and pastries but not much in the way of savory.  And I went to three separate sources looking for them, including a well-stocked Asian market, with no luck.

Let me ask around, myself, since I recall seeing pomegranates in supermarkets, but it may be too early for persimmons. (See below.) Perhaps we could postpone this proposed topic until the fruit appears in places other than Hathor's market and give some time to gfron1 to order a case for his store.

The only savory ideas I had were glazes for roasting and I can't say that's particularly Italian. You'd think, though, when chocolate is combined w eggplant or chopped meats, persimmons would find a place in early courses.

StevenC reminds us of stuffed pastas that combine sweet and savory ingredients. Come to think of it, I really liked the lasagna that Lynne Rosetto Kasper names after the Dukes of Ferrara (cf. Cooking & Cuisine of Emilia-Romagna) w its cinnamon and raisins. Perhaps instead of, or alternating with besciamella, a thin layer of persimmon purée...

I didn't really like the fruit on its own years ago when I first tried it since it's kind of unctuous and slimy. Yogurt, I'm sure, tempers both qualities.

However, I tried making a couple of non-Italian desserts last year and found that I enjoyed them, even passing along a recipe. That was in December and January, though I believe the fruit appears in the U.S. a bit earlier.

Cooking Tip & Word of Caution: As documented here in Post 10, persimmons are persnickety. The scientific mystery was solved, in fact, by David Lebovitz who explains that persimmons have the same enzyme that renders fresh pineapples pointless when it comes to setting desserts. He advises cooking the puréed fruit on the stovetop and cooling it first before incorporating it into a custard.

* * *

StevenC: Great suggestions, the first, especially!

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm not sure about the gnocchi thing because of the high water content of the persimmon, but it's worth experimenting with because the flavor combo that StevenC suggests sounds very good.

My grandmother taught me a trick for drying pasta filling--when it seems too watery, form it into a ball, wrap it in several layers of paper towel, and place it into a strainer. I tried the technique when I made pear ravioli a couple of years ago, and it worked beautifully. (The pears were very ripe and mushy.)

A couple of other ideas:

A persimmon "cotognata" to serve with cheese (I would try simmering fresh puree with a cinnamon stick or maybe even some fresh ginger until much of the water evaporated. I might also add a few crushed lemon wedges for the pectin and a touch of bitterness and acidity to accentuate the sweetness of the persimmon.)

Also, a strudel di cachi--Alto Adige--stuffed with persimmons and maybe Quark. The same concept might work in a burek (Istrian influence here), with slightly sour curds.

I'll look through my Sicilian cookbooks tonight for more ideas--I'm continually fascinated by the North African influence on Sicilian cuisine, and it seems particularly apt here, given the fruit-meat combinations of Maghrebi cooking.

Link to post
Share on other sites

disopyros virginiana are the variety native the the u.s. and they, imo, are far superior to the more astringent variety. here in nc their season is in full swing (i just pulled three pies out of my oven 5 minutes ago!). if any of you are in the southeast, check out your farmer's markets or put a message on your neighborhood listserve: more people than you think have a tree!

"Godspeed all the bakers at dawn... may they all cut their thumbs and bleed into their buns til they melt away..."

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 5 weeks later...
  • Similar Content

    • By AlaMoi
      okay, it's spelled many ways.  that's not the point here....
      I'm working on the perfect sauce/cooking liquid/+other things combo for a delectable dish.  
      I don't have problems with the meat - I can get good shanks, browned nicely, they come out tender and tasty.
      it's the in-pot accompaniments that disappoint.  I done multiple versions of 'trinity,' tried tomato based/adds, tried various seasonings.  I've served it with rice, pasta, barley, faro as the 'side reinforcement.'
      there was a little resto in North Henderson / Patrick Lane(?) that did "my ideal" knock-em-dead version, I've never been able to duplicate the taste.
      anyone have a super-version?  am I missing some magic spicing classic to the real Italian deal?
    • By Melania
      It's one o'clock on a warm summer's day in Florence, I'm on my way to get ingredients for lunch. The sun is high in the sky, the cobblestones are warm under my feet and the aroma of something delicious is in the air. My mind starts to drift to the onions, celery and tomatoes I need for my pasta sauce, oh and don't forget something sweet for dessert...this truly is la dolce vita.
      My thoughts are soon interrupted by an unwelcome "chiuso" sign on the door of my new favorite deli. The blinds are closed and the friendly owners are nowhere in sight. The reality of having my favorite pasta dish for lunch was slipping further and further away.
      What a nightmare! How can this be?
        A local passing by must have noticed my frustration.   "Signorina, è riposo. Tutto è chiuso!"
        Of course! How could I forget about the sacred Italian siesta?
        A siesta or riposo, as most Italians call it, is a time of rest. This time is usually around midday, or the hottest part of the day (very inconvenient if you're craving a bowl of pasta.) No one can really say where the tradition of the siesta originates, but many say it's all about food (no surprises there really).
        For many Italian families the main meal of the day is lunch. This heavy meal in the middle of the day is attributed to the standard Mediterranean diet: A minuscule breakfast of a coffee and pastry , a heavy lunch and an evening meal around 10 o'clock. The logic is that after such a heavy meal one would surely be drowsy and need to rest, no one can work efficiently on a full stomach!
        Post offices, car rentals, supermarkets and even coffee shops (in some smaller towns police stations too) all close their doors for a riposo. Everything comes to a standstill as every Italian goes home to kick of their shoes, enjoy a homemade lunch with family and bask in the Italian sunshine for three to four hours. This is serious business. One would not dare work for 8 hours straight. After their riposo most businesses open again around 4 o'clock and stay open till 7pm. Its the perfect balance between work and play and does wonders for your digestive system!
        "Grazie!" I thanked her for the reminder. The midday sun started to become unbearable. The streets had cleared with only a few tourists braving the midday heat still around. I thought about the strawberries I bought from the market earlier that week. Strawberries for lunch on my shaded balcony and maybe a nap afterwards sounded like my perfect riposo. The pasta will have to wait till 4.
    • By haresfur
      I found this article about arancino/arancina really interesting

    • By jennyandthejets
      I'll be in Naples for a few days next month and I wanted to try something traditional, and my friend recommended trying parmigiana. She said she loved it, but the problem is that she ate it at her Italian friend's house, and I won't be able to have that exact parmigiana. So, I did some research online and found a few restaurants that have good ratings and are serving allegedly great eggplant casserole. This place is 4 stars rated, but people seem not to agree whether the parmigiana is good or not.... On the other hand, this place has a great rating, appears when searching for the parmigiana, but nobody seems to write about it in their reviews. Finally, this one is said to have the best parmigiana in Naples (or in the world, for that matter), and I wanted to know if anyone had the so-called world's best?
      I would really appreciate if you could help me make the decision. Looking forward to your advice!

    • By alacarte
      I recently took a trip to Northern Italy, and was delighted to find that the cappuccino everywhere was just wonderful, without exception. Smooth, flavorful, aromatic perfect crema, strong but not too strong.
      Aside from the obvious answer (duh, Italians created cappuccino ), what makes Italian capp so fantastic, and how do I duplicate the effect here?
      I'm wondering if it's the water, the way the coffee is ground or stored, the machines used....I'm baffled.
      Also noticed that the serving size tended to be smaller than what I'm used to -- i.e. a small teacupful vs. a brimming mug or Starbucks supersize. Not sure why that is either.
      Grazie mille for any insight on this!
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

  • Create New...