Persimmons Are Never So Good as When They're Pickled

January 13, 2016

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?

Photo by Bobbi Lin

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.

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And for all you grilled cheese people out there: They're the perfect accompaniment to a sharp cheddar on multigrain.

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Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.