The persimmon tree has been cultivated for centuries in its native land of China where it was nicknamed “Apple of the Orient.” It was later grown in Japan and Korea and came to California in the mid 1800s. There are thousands of varieties. Most persimmon trees are either male or female. Many are grown specifically for the fruit which can readily be found in supermarkets during season. Persimmon (Diospyros kaki L. – Greek for “fruit of the gods”), its common name ‘kaki’.
It is really not a fruit, but a large, round, succulent berry, with a smooth, thin peel of variable color (from yellow to brilliant orange), depending on the degree of ripening. The pulp is soft, creamy, almost gelatinous when the fruit is fully ripe.
The persimmon tree grows from 30 to 70 feet in height.
Persimmon fruit varies in color from light yellow orange to dark orange red. They can weigh as little as a few ounces to more than 1 pound. The shape of the fruit varies from spherical to acorn shaped.
A tree will produce a large crop of edible fruit and, as with most fruit trees; the fruit comes during the summer months. The fruit is sweet when ripe but has an extremely bitter taste if eaten before it has ripened.
Persimmons are usually not juiced but are eaten on its own, pureed or used for making smoothies. They are highly fibrous, delicious and nutritious.
Persimmon is an excellent source of a few known phytonutrients:
- cryptoxantin that gives it the brilliant orange color
- catechins, gallocatechins are anti-oxidants from the flavonoids family, known to have anti-inflammatory and anti-hemorrhagic properties
- anti-tumor compound betulinic acid
- beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin are anti-oxidants that help neutralize free-radicals and prevent oxidation and cancer
Persimmon is rich in vitamin A, C, the B vitamins. In the minerals department, it is dense-packed with calcium, potassium, iron, manganese, phosphorus and copper.
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Persimmon does have laxative and diuretic properties and is particularly recommended for people suffering from liver problems. It is also an energy-dense fruit. That’s why it is recommended for children, people playing sports and people who are physically or mentally tired.
Below are various therapeutic and healthy properties of this very sweet fruit:
Ageing protection: Free radicals damage skin cell and stimulated ageing which is faster than normal. But antioxidants and phytonutrient reverse the ageing effect and protect from early ageing.
Cancer fighting: Persimmon contains highly beneficial nutrient which protect from free radicals. Free radicals are responsible for cancer. But antioxidants and phyto-nutrient neutralizes these free radicals and prevent DNA damage. Cells with damaged DNA turns into a cancer cell. So persimmon fruit is effective to protect from the root cause of cancer.
Cold and flu: Thanks to its content in vitamin C, persimmon is highly effective in enhancing the immune system function and can help relieve the symptoms of flu and cold, as well as many other infectious or inflammatory conditions.
Constipation: Due to its high content in fiber and water, persimmon does have excellent laxative properties that can be a powerful natural remedy for constipation.
Diuretic effect: Persimmon does have excellent diuretic properties, due to its high content in potassium and calcium. Eating a persimmon a day is an effective way to prevent or relieve water retention. Daily consumption of persimmon is better than the use of diuretic drugs, since persimmon does not cause potassium loss which is associated with many known diuretics.
Eye protection and nourishing: Eye retina damage is the cause of eye vision loss. Retinal damage is caused due to free radicals. Persimmon fruit contains a vast amount of nutrient like antioxidant Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K and phytonutrient zeaxanthin. These nutrients are extremely important to protect eye retinal damage. Also it protects from cataract or age related macular degeneration.
High blood pressure: Helps reduce high blood pressure and prevent many heart conditions associated with hypertension.
Improve Digestive system: Persimmon fruit provides a high amount of fiber. Fiber provides roughage during digestion which is essential to improve digestion process. Also eating persimmon fruit prevent constipation.
Liver health and body detoxification: Persimmon is an excellent source of anti-oxidants which play a key role in liver health and body detoxification. Anti-oxidants help neutralize toxins and other harmful substances in the body, prevent and treat the damages caused by free-radicals.
Natural energizer: Persimmons are highly digestible fruits and also provide a lot of readily available energy (in the form of sugars) to sustain any energy-requiring activity. That’s why they are particularly recommended for children and people who practice sports or other physical activities.
Stress, tiredness and fatigue: Due to their high content in sugars and potassium, persimmon juice can help reinforce the body with energy and relieve the symptoms of stress, fatigue and tiredness without the need to use special energetic and nutritional supplements.
SELECTION AND STORAGE
To check if persimmons are ripe, lightly depress the fruit. If it’s hard, it’s not yet ripe, do not eat unless you’re certain that you’ve got the non-astringent variety.
Fully ripe persimmons are soft to the touch and have a good overall orange coloring. The skin will appear transparent and should be smooth.
To speed up the ripening process, put persimmons out at room temperature. Storing them in the fridge will slow down the ripening process.
HOW TO CONSUME AND ENJOY
Persimmons are eaten fresh, dried, raw, or cooked. When eaten fresh they are usually eaten whole like an apple or cut into quarters, though with some varieties it is best to peel the skin first.
One way to consume very ripe persimmons, which can have the texture of pudding, is to remove the top leaf with a paring knife and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
Riper persimmons can also be eaten by removing the top leaf, breaking the fruit in half and eating from the inside out. The flesh ranges from firm to mushy, and the texture is unique.
Persimmons can also be used to prepare delicious sauces, creams, jams, jellies, marmalade, compote, smoothies and can be incorporated into salads. They make a delicious sorbet.
Due to its high content in sugars, persimmon is not recommended for people suffering from diabetes, obesity or overweight.
Dried persimmons have even higher sugar content because in its dried state, the sugars are more concentrated.
Eating persimmon fruit provides many health benefits. It contains high amount of tannin which is the risk factor.
Eating persimmon fruit with an empty stomach can cause diarrhea. Also eating in excess also cause diarrhea due to its high tannin content. So be safe and eat persimmon in limited quantity.
Again, diabetes patients should stay away from it as it contains high amount of sugar.