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Persimmons sweet and savoury

March 7, 2008

Fresh Australian sweet persimmons are fast becoming a fashionable choice amongst fruit and vegetable buyers in autumn with the fresh crisp and crunchy delectable taste just pure pleasure.

The adaptability of this bright red-orange fruit makes it an ideal pairing to sweet or savoury, hot and cold dishes. It’s also perfect for Asian fusion cooking such as rice paper rolls with prawns and persimmon with a homemade dipping sauce.

The astringent variety of persimmons are perfect for a cheap and easy way to make your own sorbet. Make sure the fruit is well ripened, pop in the freezer, then when frozen slice the top off and spoon the frozen pulp right out of the skin – you can sprinkle some lemon or sea salt for added taste.

Don’t forget, when selecting persimmons, the fruit should be brightly coloured, glossy and firm. The green calyx (the flower shaped cap) will become easy to remove as the fruit ripens. The appealing exterior hides a surprising centre – a unique star pattern, which is only visible when the fruit is cut horizontally.

Australians were introduced to persimmons in 1977 but this beautiful fruit has been grown in Southeast Asia for thousands of years. They are believed to have originated in China, and are also considered a native to Japan, Korea, Burma and the Himalaya. Persimmons grow in most states of Australia, as the fruit prefers sub-tropical to mild climates, meaning they are perfectly suited to the Australian conditions.

Persimmons on a nutritional level, fair much better than many other fruits. They have high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as potassium, phosphorus and beta-carotene. These brightly orange glowing fruits contain virtually no fat – which makes them great snacks, that won’t go straight to your hips.

Persimmons are available late February to June. Here are two recipes to get you started this season.

Low Fat Persimmon Muffins

1 1/2 cups wholemeal plain flour
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup sultanas
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3/4 cup honey
1 cup ripe persimmon pulp, mashed

Preheat the oven to 180 C. Grease a 12-hole (1/2 cup capacity) muffin pan.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients. In a small bowl combine all wet ingredients.

Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Gently fold together until just combined. Over-mixing will create a tough muffin.

Spoon into muffin pan, bake for 15-18 mins or until the tops bounce back. Serve warm or cooled. Makes 12.

Persimmon Prawn Rice Paper Roll

60gm dried rice vermicelli
8 16cm round rice paper wrappers
8 medium butter lettuce leaves, washed
8 large cooked king prawns, peeled, de-veined and sliced in half lengthways
24 fresh mint leaves
1 small firm persimmon, julienned
1 small Lebanese cucumber, julienned
24 fresh coriander leaves

Dipping sauce:
1 tablespoon Japanese rice vinegar
4 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
1 tablespoon unsalted peanuts, roughly chopped

Prepare rice vermicelli as per packet instructions, drain well. Combine all sauce ingredients for dipping.

Place 1 rice sheet in warm water until just softened, remove from water place on clean, damp tea towel. Lay a lettuce leaf over the wrapper, top with 2 pieces of prawn horizontally, 3 mint leaves, a little persimmon, cucumber, rice vermicelli and 3 coriander leaves. Fold bottom of wrapper up over the filling, fold one side in, roll up tightly. Keep rolls under damp cloth while preparing remaining ingredients.

Serve with dipping sauce. Makes 8.

Weblink: www.persimmonsaustralia.com.au

More persimmon recipes:

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