The Fuyu is smaller than the Hachiya and has a slightly flattened shape. It is a non-astringent, sweeter variety with a firmer-textured flesh when ripe, which allows the fruit to be eaten like a crisp apple. Allowing it to soften will provide a more flavorful fruit, however. The Fuyu is a variety that goes well in fruit salads, as a snacking Persimmon, or poached similar to a poached pear dessert.
The Hachiya, an astringent variety is up to 3 inches in diameter, round in shape with a slightly elongated base making it look somewhate like an acorn. A common variety most often found in food stores, the Hachiya has a burnt orange, smooth and creamy flesh containing a few small black seeds that are edible. When eaten fresh, the Hachiya is best when it is soft and almost mushy or jelly-like. It is most easily eaten with the use of a spoon either as a fresh fruit or baked into steamed pudding. It is also used as an ingredient for cakes, cookies, breads and sauces, often available around holidays at the end of the year.
The Sharon fruit, a nonastringent variety, is a persimmon developed from the Fuju family of persimmons. Like the Fuyu, it has an edible skin, a crisp seedless flesh that provides a pear-like sweetness, and can be eaten while firm. When the nonastrigent varieties eventually soften, they can still be eaten out of hand, but also can be used for cooking.
Persimmons are used in main dishes to enhance the flavors, in puddings, desserts, salsas, jams, candy, breads, cakes, stewed fruits, and salads or they can be eaten fresh, out of hand. When selecting, choose those with smooth and shiny skins without blemishes. Dried persimmons, which have a chewy, jelly-like texture and a unique sweet flavor, are also available.
Persimmons can be found from October through February. When selecting the Haciya variety, look for smooth, brightly colored, shiny skins and select those that are plump and soft but not mushy. The Fuyu should also have a shiny skin, but instead of being soft, should be firm to the touch. Unripened Persimmons can be kept at room temperature to ripen withing several days. To hasten the ripening, place the Persimmon in a paper bag and close it tightly. Adding an apple to release ethylene gas held within the Persimmon will assist with the ripening when it is in the bag. Ripe Persimmons can be kept in the refrigerator for several days before beginning to deteriorate.