Don't let the persimmon confuse you—it might look like a tomato on the outside, but the flavor and texture is closer to that of an apricot or plum on the inside. There are two common varieties of persimmons sold in the United States: the Hachiya and Fuyu. The Hachiyas are slightly more astringent than Fuyus, but both can be eaten similarly when ripe. And trust me, you don't want to eat an underripe persimmon! Not only are they bitter tasting, but the Hachiya variety contains an ingredient called tannis that causes dry mouth if eaten when underripe. So how do you know when a persimmon is ripe? It's easier than you might think!

How to choose ripe persimmons

  • Color check: No matter which variety of persimmon you choose, look for one that is dark in color with deep red undertones. You might notice black streaks or stains on the fruit. Don't worry–that doesn't mean it's bad. Black stains are actually commonly found on persimmons, especially Hachiyas. A ripe persimmon will also be glossy, no matter the color.
  • Size and shape matters: Hold the persimmon in your hand. It should feel round, plump and heavier than it looks. That means it's juicy and flavorful on the inside.
  • Give it a little squeeze: Gently squeeze your persimmon. It should feel firm but give just slightly under pressure. Be careful not to squeeze too hard—the skin of the persimmon is delicate and can bruise easily.
  • Feel for smoothness: A ripe persimmon will feel smooth and soft. Put the fruit back if you notice any cracks, bruises or blemishes, which typically means it's been damaged or is overripe.

How to store

Keep your persimmons on your countertop at room temperature or in your refrigerator where they should last for up to four days. Want to keep them even longer? Peel and puree your persimmon, add 1/8 teaspoon of ascorbic acid to help prevent browning, and place in an airtight container in your freezer. Persimmon can last up to a year when frozen.

Need to speed up the ripening process?

If you bring home an underripe persimmon, pop it in a paper bag and allow it to ripen on your countertop for a few days. You can also put the whole fruit in the freezer until it’s frozen solid. When you thaw it out, the persimmon will be sweeter, softer and less astringent.

Serving suggestions

You can slice your persimmon and eat it raw if desired, peel and all. Or cut the fruit in half and scoop out and eat the pulp with a spoon.

Sweet recipe ideas: Mix persimmon pulp into your favorite spice cookie recipe this holiday season. You can also add persimmons to cheesecake batter or make your own jam using pureed persimmons.

Savory recipe ideas: Top your grilled pork with persimmon wedges tossed in lime juice and mint. Put a sweet and savory dish on the dinner table this Thanksgiving by adding persimmons, raisins, Swiss chard, toasted almonds and celery root to your favorite stuffing recipe. Or toss salad greens with pears, sliced persimmons (Fuyus work best in this recipe), green beans and shallots.