The persimmon tree thrives in warm weather. Thus, you're most apt to encounter its fruit in the Sunbelt states. Two main types of persimmons are grown, and it really pays to know one from the other.
The Fuyu is straightforward enough. It's squat and pale orange, about the size and shape of a miniature, decorative pumpkin. Ripe Fuyus are fairly firm with a mild, sweet-tart taste.
The Hachiya is a practical joker. An unripe Hachiya looks and feels like a large, ripe Fuyu, but it has the mouth-puckering acidity of a lemon. A ripe Hachiya, on the other hand, looks and feels like an overripe tomato -- deep red and squishy soft. But only then is it edible. Its flesh is pure sweetness, with a smooth, almost creamy texture.
Fuyus can be eaten out-of-hand or cubed in fruit salad. The Hachiya is best tackled with a spoon, scooped straight out of the skin. Mashed Hachiyas add sweetness and color to cookies, cakes and quick breads.
Concerning storage, Fuyus keep best at room temperature for up to about a week. Hachiyas fare better in the fridge, where you can stretch out ripening for a month.
Our next food reminds us that while red and gold may be fall colors, greens are still garden hues.