Orange you Fuyu?

It’s persimmon season here, and the trees are heavy with the bright-orange fruits. Many were planted in our area decades ago by Japanese farmers who missed their national fruit. The two main varieties are Fuyu, the acorn-shaped version that you eat soft, and Hachiya, its tomato-shaped cousin that is eaten firm.

Specialty growers like Otow Orchard in Granite Bay grow even more obscure varieties, like the brown-fleshed Maru and the yellow Hyakume, which is treated with vodka to sweeten it. Otow is also one of the few remaining producers of hoshi-gaki, a painstakingly hand-massaged, dried persimmon that looks frosty with crystallized sugars. You have to special order them, but they’re divine when nibbled alongside coffee.

Hoshi-gaki was inducted onto the Slow Food Ark of Taste because of its limited production. It’s a true heirloom food product that you should seek out.

However, don’t forgo the fresh ones. Persimmons continue to ripen off the tree, so buy or pick them slightly green and watch carefully. Then enjoy them as soon as they’re fully orange (and squashy, for the Fuyus), mixed into gingerbread or tossed with a tart green salad.