Hachiya Persimmon & Mandarin Ice Cream

Sure, spring brings strawberries and summer brings peaches, but autumn with its bounty of turnips, rutabagas and curly kale is my favorite season.   It’s the season of under-loved and under-appreciated fruits and vegetables – the kind that rarely make it to the kitchen table for want of culinary know-how or for simple lack of desire.

Persimmon is, indeed, one of these fruits.   Somewhat obscure, somewhat exotic and decidedly under-loved – that is unless you’re blessed enough to live on the west coast where a bounty of persimmons are available locally from sustainable farms.   These persimmons arrived alongside a box of mandarinsfrom Chaffin Family Orchards with which I made mandarin cranberry relish.

A persimmon a cute fruit – largely reminiscent of a bright orange tomato.   The quartet of grey-green, rounded leaves at its stem look like something a pixie might wear for a hat.   A persimmon’s flavor is unmatched and a challenge to describe. Imagine hints of pumpkin combined with pear, apricot and even subtle notes of avocado.   It’s a flavor that combines well with orange and cream and spice.

There are primarily two sorts of persimmon: the astringent and the non-astringent, and of these two sorts there are two varieties with which most of us are familiar: the hachiya and the fuyu.   Hachiyas are elongated, acorn-shaped persimmons with a deep red-orange color while fuyu persimmons are squat and lighter in color than their cousins.

Hachiyas, you see, are of the astringent sort – the kind that ought not be eaten until fully ripe lest the fruit’s bitter tannins suck the all moisture from your mouth, leaving it as dry as desert on a July afternoon.   What this meant, for me, is that I really wanted to try an unripe hachiya.   Just to see, you know?   So I grabbed the a hachiya from the basket and sliced into it and swallowed.   It’s true, I tell you.   It’s true. An unripe hachiya is, indeed, astringent.   It’s like drinking overbrewed tea, only 100 times as strong.   A ripe hachiya, by contrast, is sweet, pudding-like and lush.

A ripe hachiya persimmon is soft – really soft – with the heft and softness of a water balloon.     When ripe, they’re so soft that you may very well question whether to keep it or toss it, thinking, “She said it was supposed to be soft, but this soft, really?” That’s the kind of softness we’re after.   From here, cut off the top   and scoop out its pulp.   This natural persimmon purée is fantastic for baking, but I chose to mix it with mandarin and vanilla for persimmon ice cream.

The ice cream is only mildly sweet and, thanks to the texture and softness of the persimmon pulp, is also fluffy and light in flavor. It is also a raw food as none of its ingredients are cooked or heated.  Persimmons are high in vitamin C, beta carotene, manganese and lycopene while cream from grass-fed cows is rich in conjugated linoleic acid and other nutrients.   The mandarins in this ice cream complement the persimmons well, providing just the perfect touch of acidity and vibrant aroma of citrus.

hachiya persimmon & mandarin ice cream

By Jenny Published: December 1, 2009

  • Yield: 1 quart of ice cream

This recipe makes approximately 1 quart of ice cream. If you can’t or choose not to use raw cream, take care to use organic cream, preferably from grass-fed cows – avoiding ultra-high pasteurized (UHT) cream. This recipe also makes use of raw egg yolk, which we love in our home for its vitamin A and wholesome, nourishing fats. Some folks, however, may wish to avoid them.

Ingredients

  • pulp of 3 Ripe Hachiya Persimmons
  • 1 small Fresh Mandarin Orange
  • 1/4 cup Raw Honey (more or less to taste)
  • 1 Vanilla Bean
  • 2 cups Fresh Cream
  • 1 cups Fresh Whole Milk
  • 4 Egg Yolks from Pastured Hens

Instructions

  1. Zest and juice the mandarin, reserving all but 2 tablespoons of juice for another recipe.
  2. Blend cream, milk, hachiya pulp, mandarin zest, 2 tablespoons of mandarin juice.
  3. Scrape the contents of vanilla bean into the mixture.
  4. Combine all ingredients in your food processor, blender or mixer and process until well-blended and smooth.
  5. Pour into your ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s suggestion.

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What people are saying

  1. says

    You made me laugh so hard, I’m rolling! It is so true that under ripe hachiya persimmons bitter tannins suck all the moisture from your mouth, so funny and true! I LOVE persimmons, and am excited to try this ice cream out! Beautiful Jenny!

  2. says

    Our San Diego area CSA box has contained Fuyu persimmons the past few weeks (and so many othe rgood things). Fuyu are the non-astringent variety that can be eaten when firm; the texture is crisp like an apple, but the flavor is more like a mango. I love to slice one up, then spread the slices with mascarpone cream cheese.

    A few fruits really ripened until very soft, though, and I couldn’t decide what else to do with them (most baked recipes weren’t gluten-free and I didn’t have time or inspiration to experiment this week). I’ll try them in ice cream. What a great idea!

    I’ve been reading up on persimmon trees and think I’ll plant one in the garden. We’ve removed our lawn and are replacing with more “lazy” edibles instead.

    Ann Marie of Cheeseslave blog just put up a post about Chaffin orchard, too. Then I got an email from http://www.localharvest.org about their mandarin oranges, too. I just sent a 15# box of oranges to my folks in the Northeast to brighten their December days with some California “sunshine”.

  3. says

    I love persimmons! My grandparents, who live in southern Mississipi, have a few trees in their yard. I remember eating them over the sink or a bowl. I think my grandma made preserves out of them. I recently found some at a farmer’s market here, in central TX; my husband and I eat the whole box with a bit of cream in one sitting.

  4. says

    Your ice cream sounds wonderful! We actually get local persimmons here (Austin) in the fall, but I think they’re gone for the season now. I’m tucking this recipe away for next year!

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