While not many Americans have eaten persimmon, never mind know what a persimmon is, the country of Japan has sung praises of this fruit for centuries. The Japanese even boast it as their national fruit, and for many good reasons.
Astringency and Tannins
Persimmons grow on multi-trunked or single-stemmed deciduous trees; they grow best in moderate winters and mild summers. Like an apple, it can be easily picked from a tree and eaten raw—all but the seeds and calyx are edible. Two varieties grow: the astringent, which must be eaten when fully ripe, jelly-like in texture, and sweet to taste; and the non-astringent, which contains fewer tannins than the astringent variety. Tannins are polyphenols that we find in tea but are bitter to taste; tannins in astringent persimmons change when they are ripe, allowing for a sweet taste, but maintain their beneficial properties. The non-astringent variety contains fewer tannins but can be eaten off the tree like an apple.
Although being high in carbs and natural sugars, persimmons are low in calories (about 70 cal/100g) and fats and a rich source of dietary fiber. Fresh, they (especially their peels) contain vitamin-A, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and cryptoxanthin; these hunt down free radicals and reactive oxygen species in your system, thereby slowing down the aging process and the progression of many diseases, including age-related macular disease (ARMD) in elderly folk. The betulinic acid of a persimmon also prevents tumor formation. Being plentiful in vitamin-C, as well, eating the fruit regularly will improve your body’s immune system.
As for minerals, persimmons contain potassium, manganese, copper, and phosphorous; potassium prevent muscle cramps, manganese rids the body of free radicals, and copper helps in the production of red blood cells.
Recipes and Bath
You can eat persimmons raw or use them in many recipes for cookies, salads, smoothies, jellies, and even pancake toppings. The Japanese are also utilizing their national fruit’s properties outside of the digestive tract; like persimmon alum deodorant soap.