Persimmons are a lovely fall treat, great for making baked goods, fruit leather, pudding, jam, and other sweets. But you can also use this autumnal fruit in more savory dishes.
The fuyu variety of persimmon, which tastes similar to an apricot or date with notes of cinnamon, is great in salads, in stews, or roasted.
Fuyu persimmons are available from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at ASAP, Black Mountain, West Asheville, River Arts District, and East Asheville markets. They’re ready to eat now, even when slightly firm. (Hachiya persimmons, on the other hand, need to be very soft and ripe to be edible.) Some people prefer to peel persimmons before eating, but you don’t have to.
Try pairing persimmons with roasted beets—an assortment of red, pink, and gold—and bitter greens for a fall salad. Get beets from Full Sun Farm (River Arts District and North Asheville markets), Ivy Creek Family Farm (North Asheville and Weaverville markets), and Green Toe Ground Farm (ASAP and North Asheville markets). Green Toe Ground also has radicchio, a slightly bitter salad green. Dress with a red wine or citrus vinaigrette and top with your favorite local cheese.
The cinnamon spice note in fuyu persimmons lends itself well to Middle Eastern and North African flavors as well. Try roasting thick slices alongside yogurt-and-harissa-marinated chicken thighs. Or make a tagine-style stew with lamb, chicken, or veggies, and replace apricots with persimmons. You can get chicken and lamb from Sugar Hollow Farm at North Asheville and River Arts District markets. Lamb is also available from Warren Wilson College Farm at ASAP Farmers Market.
Pork plays well with many different fruits, and persimmons are no exception. For a simple combo, try adding slices of persimmons to a pressed ham and Swiss sandwich. Or, for a bigger meal, roast a pork loin or pork chops with persimmons and serve with sautéed mustard greens. Pork products are available from Sugar Hollow Farm and Warren Wilson College Farm as well as Hickory Nut Gap Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market) and Dillingham Family Farm (Weaverville Tailgate Market). Note that Dry Ridge Farm (ASAP, North, and West Asheville markets) will have pork available again in January.
Late summer and early fall produce continues to mingle on farmers tailgate market tables. You can get still get tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, okra, beans, and potatoes alongside winter squash, apples, sweet potatoes, and hardy greens like kale, collards, arugula, chard, and mustard. You’ll also find farm-fresh eggs, cheese, seafood, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.