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Curiosities
persimmons

The persimmon tree (Diospyros Kaki) is one of the most ancient trees in the world: this plant, that represents autumn more than any other symbol (even dried leaves) for its colors, originally comes from East Asia and is still much-loved. The persimmon is an orange-red autumn fruit with many varieties, with a sweet (very sweet!) and particular flavour, so unique it has been called "food of the gods" in the past. But, before telling you the properties and benefits of the persimmon, we would like to clear up some confusion about its Italian name. The word cachi (italian for persimmon) does not possess a singular form: so, if you are wondering if is it a caco or a cachi, now you know the answer! Even if it is much-used, the singular form caco doesn't exist. There are many interesting facts about persimmons, starting from their mostly unknown and underappreciated varieties, like the "apple-persimmon" and the "vanilla-persimmon".



Persimmons: all the benefits, the origins and the nutritional values

According to an old Chinese legend, the persimmon plant, "Apple of the East", is the incarnation of the tree of the seven virtues because of its many qualities: it can live for a long time, it casts a big shadow, and its a home for birds that nest between its branches, it is not naturally attacked by pests, its foliage (which is also useful as a fertilizer) is resistant to frost and low temperatures and its wood is perfect for lightning a good fire. For these reasons, the persimmon tree has been recognized as a "sacred" and mythological plant: in Sicily, where persimmons are harvested more than everywhere else, the population believed that in its seed layed a representation of the Holy Virgin, for which it is now known as the "manuzza di Maria"; moreover, its scientific name, Diospyros kaki, comes from the Greek words Diòs (meaning Zeus) and pyròs (wheat), which would translate as "Zeus' wheat".

 

The persimmon's beneficial properties are many and each of them is important for the body's health. In autumn, eating persimmons is ideal for those who need to regain strength and concentration and to remove tiredness: thanks to its composition of calcium, mineral salts (like potassium) and magnesium, this fruit is indispensable for our body, in addition to being diuretic and hydrating, as it contains about 80% water. Moreover, persimmons contain vitamin C (which strengthens the immune system, particularly tested during the first colder months) and antioxidants like vitamin A, beta carotene, lycopene, lutein and zeaxanthin, all important to protect the skin from premature aging and the sight from the action of free radical.



There are at least four reasons to eat a persimmon in the morning, during breakfast:

  1. Persimmons are diuretic and help purify the body;
  2. They are a natural laxative, because they are full of fibers (this makes them an ideal fruit for those who suffer from gastritis);
  3. They are an incredible source of energy, because they are full of sugars and calories;
  4. They protect the liver and the bacterial flora, thanks to their hepatoprotective properties.



All the Italian varieties of persimmons, in alphabetical order

There are many types of persimmons in the world, each with its own characteristics. This is the complete list of Italian varieties of persimmons:

  • Chocolate persimmon
  • Fuyu
  • kawabata
  • Lotus of Romagna
  • Suruga
  • Vanilla of Campania

 


How many calories does a persimmon have?

The persimmon is a delicious and very sweet fruit, that can easily tempt anyone. But, is it true that persimmons make you fat? This fruit is very low in fat, but particularly rich in sugar and calories: in particular, 100 grams of persimmon contain 65-70 kcal. It consists of about 18% sugar, 78-80% water and 0.40% unsaturated fats. We can safely say that, if eaten with moderation, persimmons are good: experts recommend a low consumption to people who are overweight or suffer from diabetes, while maintaining its suitability for every kind of diet.


How to use persimmons in cooking

In cooking persimmons are wrongfully undervalued, but yet there are a lot of autumn recipes with persimmons (even savory) ideal to tackle the first days of cold temperatures and that you will love, like the persimmon marmalade-jam, the pie or the cheesecake. For a quick healthy snack, alternately, cut the persimmon, peel it and eat it simply with a spoon! The orange pulp and the subtle sweet aftertaste of vanilla are typical of every variety. For the more daring, we recommend instead to prepare a risotto with persimmons, taleggio and almonds, perfect pairs with a nice glass of white wine.

RISOTTO WITH PERSIMMONS RECIPE

Cook the rice as is tradition, cooking a shallot in a pan with butter until it turns a golden-ish color. Then, add the rice (better if local), toast it for a few minutes and continue adding beef broth time after time during the 18 minutes of cooking time. Blend the pulp of two persimmons, mix it carefully and add it to the rice shortly before it finishes cooking. Stir it with slices of taleggio and let it rest for a few minutes, then serve the rice with a dust of chopped almonds.

 

Persimmon jam: how to choose the right persimmons

Persimmon marmalade or jam is the ultimate autumn preserve: warm colors and intense flavors make it perfect for pies, toppings, savory pairings (try it with aged cheeses!) and seasonal desserts. To choose the persimmons to prepare a good jam is easy: you just need to make sure the fruit is ripe, but not so much so it is too soft, and it doesn't have maggots, rifts or spots. Once the persimmon jam is done, if it's organic, it must be preserved for three months in a cool place without direct sunlight. After opening the jar, store it in the fridge for about four days. For any doubt, read the Ministry of Health's guidelines on how to correctly prepare and preserve homemade jams.


 
Everybody loves apple-persimmons!

Unlike normal persimmons, the apple-persimmon can be eaten just harvested, without waiting for it to ripe. Its tough consistency and its shape (smaller than the normal persimmon) make it similar to an apple, hence its name, This particular fruit is part of the VI fundamental food group, according to the National Research Institute of Food and Nutrition (INRAN) and the Italian Society of Human Nutrition (SINU). The most well-known varieties of apple-persimmons are Fuyu, Hana Fuyu, O'Gosho and Jiro, while it Italy we know the "Vanilla" variety, which ripes in November, the "Chocolate" variety with its brown pulp and cocoa aftertaste, the Brazzale and Shogatsu varieties and the most widespread "Kaki" variety.

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