Persimmon or Sharon Fruit (Cennet Meyvesi)

The Persimmon, known as cennet meyvesi, or heaven/paradise fruit in Turkish looks similar to a tomato but is orange in colour.

Sometimes known as Sharon Fruit, due to it being grown in Israel in the Sharon region. Persimmons have been cultivated in parts of Asia for at least 1,000 years, but have only recently become widely available in European countries.

The two varieties are commonly available Fuyu and Hachiya. Before you buy a persimmon, it's important to know which type you're considering, because that will affect how and when to prepare it. Fuyu is the squat persimmon with a rounded bottom. It can be eaten when firm or soft. To choose a fuyu, look for one with taut skin free of blemishes. When it is firm, simply cut away the leaves, and wash or peel, then slice it as you would an apple; it is crunchy and sweet, and best for salads. To eat it when soft, store at room temperature until it gives to the touch, similar to a tomato.

The Hachiya persimmon or Sharon fruit, pictured above, has an elongated, heart-like shape. It should only be eaten when very ripe; when firm, the Hachiya is so astringent it can make your mouth dry to the point of numbness. It will ripen at room temperature and once ripened, the luscious, aromatic fruit is unforgettable. It can be ripened far past the point at which you might throw away most other fruits; when the skin appears almost translucent and the fruit feels mushy, you can bake with it—or slice off the top and eat its jelly-like contents with a spoon.

(You can hasten ripening by leaving persimmons in a paper bag along with an apple, which produces extra ethylene to soften the fruit.)

Both types of Persimmons are grown on Cyprus, however Sharon fruits are the most common. This is probably my favourite fruit in Cyprus and it is available throughout the winter, when other soft fruits, such as peaches and nectarines are not available. In Cyprus they are generally sold fully ripe. To select the sweetest fruit choose a fruit which is soft, almost over-ripe but eat quickly as they do not keep well even in the fridge.

Persimmons may be eaten fresh, dried, raw or cooked. A simple way to enjoy Persimmons is for breakfast. Combine strained (suzme) yoghurt, with granola and add sliced persimmon for a delicious start to the day.

Nutritional Value

Persimmon is a rich source of dietary fibre, twice the amount of apples. It is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C as well as minerals such as sodium, magnesium, calcium and iron. In addition, they are high in beta carotene and contains many anti-oxidants. Thereby, persimmons are good for healthy skin, immune system, and for cancer. They also contain more of the phenolic compounds thought to ward off heart disease.


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