The first time I tasted hachiya persimmon, I gagged profusely and then proceeded to spit every ounce of it back up on the kitchen counter. My cheeks felt like they had been vacuum packed, my tongue went numb and I thought I might be going into anaphylactic shock.
(have I got you excited about the recipe yet?)
It turns out it wasn’t an allergic reaction at all but, quite simply, an unripe hachiya. So, what’s all the fuss? Unlike the more popular and commercially available fuyu persimmon (shaped like a tomato) – the hachiya persimmon (shaped like an acorn) must be butter soft and completely ripe in order to be edible — deep orange and soft to the touch (like avocado) won’t do it. If you’ve ever had the experience of chomping in to an anything less than fully ripened hachiya, you know a little something about its chalk awful texture and extraordinarily astringent taste. The hachiya must be falling apart, slip-out-of-your-hands-and-on-to-the-floor kind of soft.
But (and you knew there was going to be a but), if you’re lucky enough to taste a hachiya at its prime, it is the crown jewel of persimmon – liquid silk to the tongue with a luscious sweetness that makes baked goods (drinks, dips, chutneys and butters) positively sing.
So while my relationship with hachiya has not always been easy (my current battle is working out the on-tree vs. off-tree ripening method and outwitting the squirrels and birds for first dibs on the ripe ones), I will say that it’s been worth it.
The first year we moved to our home, our hachiya tree produced precisely two fruit — the first one ended up in the bio bin (yup, the one I spat out) and the second one made us believers. We invested a little time and TLC and our return was much stronger this year.
Today I’m celebrating these little beauties that grow in our backyard and serving them up with some crispy delicious (and rather cute) flaxseed crackers.
Have you made your own nut/seed crackers yet? They’re so simple to pull together and a power snack unto themselves. Great to have up your sleeve for charcuterie boards, jams, jellies, compotes and dips of all sorts. They are grain-free (gluten-free) and completely versatile as long as the proportions are more or less respected. Feel free to play around with your own nut and seed choices, seasonings and look – whether you want them to appear perfectly square, hand broken artisan-style (like bark) or something in between – which is what I ended up with. The biggest challenge, if there is one, is getting them to a 1/8 inch thickness for that crispy factor.
Hachiya are not commonly sold in grocery stores (you will typically find fuyu) and I understand why; I’ve described in great detail what hachiya taste like before ripening (I can just see the unhappy patrons lining up with their puckered faces) and by the time they are ripe for eating, well, their skin is shriveled and their bodies soft. Not the best optics for marketing (it’s a tough world folks). You can find the delicious hachiya persimmon in markets throughout the fall and early winter and they also grow with abundance throughout the Bay Area (so don’t be shy to knock on a neighbor’s door! – offer them a little dip as a quid pro quo).
I hope you get a chance to make this creamy, subtly sweet dip sometime and if any of you happen to have any tips on how to care for hachiya persimmon – especially your preferred method for ripening them – please share.
Oh, and the twig in the pictures? Not merely gratuitous – though it does depict a certain January desolateness, it also happens to come from none other than our hachiya persimmon tree.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy and abundant new year ~
- Roasted Sweet Potato & Persimmon Hummus
- 1 large sweet potato (about 1.5 cups mashed), peeled and roughly chopped
- 1 cup cooked chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed if using canned
- ¾ cup persimmon pulp (I used fully ripe hachiya!)
- 2 Tbsp tahini
- 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- sea salt & coarse pepper to taste
- Almond Flaxseed Crackers
- 1 cup ground flaxseed
- ⅓ cup almond meal
- 1 Tbsp hemp seed
- 1 Tbsp sunflower seed
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried rosemary leaf (not the powder)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ¼-1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, always optional (it's hot!)
- ½ cup water
- Heat oven to 425 F
- Place sweet potato chunks in a mixing bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with some sea salt & black pepper, mixing to combine.
- Spread seasoned potato chunks out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes (or until they begin to soften and you can insert a fork without too much resistance).
- Remove potatoes from oven being careful not to eat them all (!)
- Once the potatoes have cooled a bit, transfer to a blender or food processor along with the chickpeas, persimmon pulp, tahini, lemon juice and a pinch of salt & pepper. Blend fully.
- Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. If the mixture is too thick add a touch more lemon and/or water.
- Store hummus for up to 3 days in the fridge.
- Heat oven to 350 F
- Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
- Add water and combine.
- Spread cracker mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and, using your hands, press/pat the dough into a rectangular shape.
- Place another piece of parchment over the mixture (it should be about the same size as the one lining the cooking sheet) and, maintaining the same rectangular shape, use a small rolling pin (or bottle) to roll the dough out to about ⅛" thickness or slightly thinner (if thicker your crackers won't crisp up - this is the only 'finicky' part of the recipe if there is one).
- Place tray of rolled out cracker dough in the oven for approximately 15 minutes - the cracker slab should feel slightly firm to the touch in the middle. Remove and allow to cool for a moment. Using both ends of the parchment paper, lift the slab and set it down on a flat cutting surface (baking sheets have rims that can interfere). Using a knife (or pastry/pizza cuter), slice the crackers into squares or triangles or simply use your hands to break pieces apart (a bit like bark) for a fun artisan style. Return the parchment lined cracker pieces to the baking sheet and pop them back into the oven for another 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and allow the crackers to settle (they will crisp up even more as they cool).
- Enjoy right away. The crackers are not ideal for storage - you can try preserving them in an airtight container but they may lose some of their crispiness.