My wife just came home with a box of 12(!) persimmons... and then declared that she has no idea how to tell when they're ripe. Help!
There are 2 varieties of persimmon you are likely to find. See if the box tells you which you have. Hachiya have a tapered heart shape, are famously astringent until they are very soft -- they are usually used in baking. Fuyu look like a squat apple, can be eaten raw while they are crisp, or used as they soften. (Descriptions from Food to Live By, by Myra Goodman) Most recipes will specify what type they use. She gives an Autumn Salad, with persimmons and pomegranate seeds, and a Persimmon and Date Breakfast Bread. I have made a pudding with super-ripe ones, and the pie above sounds great.
Susan, thanks for the fast answer. These are the tomato-shaped kind which you say are ripe when firm. But I imagine that before they're ripe, they're NOT ripe. So how do I tell when they cross over from firm-not-ripe to firm-and-ripe?
If this type, when ripe they must be firm to soft to the touch - the color almost red. I love eating them.
They are also totally edible when they start to bruise and brown a bit -- persimmon pudding, baked in cakes, etc. If you want to use them in salad, etc., I would eat them earlier, but otherwise wait till they're super ripe, mush them up with some cinnamon and nutmeg and dollop with vanilla ice cream. I'm serious.
Peter - it sounds like you have fuyu persimmons which, indeed, are ripe when they are still firm. I found it's a matter of taste whether to wait or not to eat these. I sometimes buy these at Asian markets by the crate. If you cut into one now, you'll find it is a little apple like but still tasty. They get sweeter as they soften, but they might start to get brown spots on the skin as they get really soft. I like them best when they are slightly less than taut/firm, but not mushy. I cut them into salads this time of year in lieu of bad tomatoes.