Persimmons are sweet cold-weather treats (recipe)
PAN-FRIED PORK CHOPS WITH PERSIMMON CHUTNEY
2 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons (12 ounces total), peeled with a knife, cored, seeded if necessary, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
1 teaspoon finely grated peeled fresh ginger
1 small fresh jalapeno chile, seeded and minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon paprika
4 (3/4-inch-thick) loin pork chops
3 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil
1. Stir together the persimmons, onion, ginger, jalapeno, lime juice and 1 teaspoon of the salt; let stand at room temperature while cooking pork chops.
2. Heat vegetable oil or olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Pat chops dry and season with remaining salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and paprika.
3. Cook chops for 4 to 5 minutes per side, turning once halfway through cooking, until browned on the outside and slightly pink in center (145 F with an instant-read thermometer).
4. Transfer chops with tongs to cutting board or plate and let stand, loosely covered with foil, for 3 minutes before serving. Serve pork chops with persimmon chutney. Makes 4 servings.
Persimmons are a late-season treasure. In fact, the Latin word for it means “food of the gods.” Ripe persimmons are a sweet, orange-red fruit ranging in size from 1 to 3 inches. Persimmons can be consumed fresh, dried or as an ingredient of breakfast cereals, muffins, pies, breads, cakes, salads and puddings.
Persimmons begin appearing in markets in October and are available through February. Look for persimmons with taut, glossy skin, avoiding fruit with soft spots or bruises. If persimmons are still firm, store them at room temperature and allow them to ripen. To speed up the ripening process, you can put the fruit in a paper bag with a banana or apple. Store soft, ripe persimmons in the refrigerator until ready to eat.
There are two main varieties of Asian cultivars commercially available in the U.S. Hachiya persimmons are tart and chalky until they are extremely ripe, when their interior turns sweet and liquefies. Fuyu persimmons are shaped like tomatoes and are sliced and eaten like apples. Fuyus are sweeter than Hachiyas and can be eaten while still firm.
Native American persimmon trees produce a more astringent fruit with a bitter taste. As the fruit gets ripe, the tannins that cause the astringency coagulate, the flesh becomes soft and the fruit becomes sweet and juicy.
Sharon fruit is another variety of persimmon — a small, glowing-orange fruit with a waxy skin and a firmer texture. It gets its name from Israel, where it is extensively grown. It’s a little easier to transport than the American varieties because it’s not as fragile and has a longer shelf life. It also doesn’t have the lush, jelly-like interior of American persimmons.
Persimmons originated in China, where over 2,000 different cultivars have been developed. Eventually the tree spread into Korea and Japan. By the middle of the 1800s, the persimmon tree made the journey across the Pacific Ocean to California. The seeds arrived in 1856 with Commodore Perry from Japan, and whole trees were imported to California in 1870.
Unripe Japanese persimmons are full of tannin, which is used to brew sake and preserve wood. The small, non-edible fruit from wild persimmon trees in Japan is crushed and mixed with water. This solution is painted on paper to repel insects. It also is thought to give cloth moisture-repellent properties. Leaves of persimmon can be used for the preparation of tea, while roasted, ground seeds can be used as a substitute for coffee.
Persimmons are high in vitamin A, and are a good source of vitamin C and fiber. Persimmon pudding and cookies are tasty treats. Persimmons also can be pureed and used as a topping for ice cream or cake, or as an addition to rice dishes and fruit salads. This recipe for a Spiced Persimmon Chutney pairs perfectly with Pan-Fried Pork Chops. It’s the perfect hearty, cold-weather meal.
Angela Shelf Medearis is an award-winning children’s author, culinary historian and the author of seven cookbooks. Her new cookbook is “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” Her website is http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
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