In my mind's roster of beautiful fruits, the persimmon ranks high. The color is startling, the skin smooth and cool, the insides, when sliced open, revealing a star. But I have to admit that I don't love the way persimmons taste (though I haven't tried the sorbet trick with the Hachiya persimmons yet)—except when they're pickled (Fuyu persimmons, that is).
A childhood in New England means that I have not exactly been spoiled by warm-weather fruits. For the large part, we New Englanders are grilled cheese people, people who do a lot of preserving of things in vinegar just to get through the winter. We are not pomelo people or persimmon people.
But a pickled persimmon?
Fresh persimmons actually have a lot in common with cucumbers, ancestors of the best-known pickles, which is what brought me to the idea of pickling persimmons in the first place: Their flesh is crisp and watery, just slightly sweet, and, as it turns out, they pickle with great results. (There may have been a time in my much pickier childhood when I didn't like cucumbers either.) Skinned, sliced into quarters, and submerged in apple cider or rice vinegar, their flavor becomes more like their color: electric, bright, and so worth preserving in a jar.
And for all you grilled cheese people out there: They're the perfect accompaniment to a sharp cheddar on multigrain.
- 2 firm, smooth Fuyu persimmons (Hachiya persimmons will not work for this)
- 1 cup apple cider or rice vinegar (or a combination of the two)
- 1 inch of fresh ginger, grated
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 big pinches of red pepper flakes