Friday, November 12, 2010

Drying Persimmons

Six different farms provided produce for this week's CSA box!

Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark provided:
Butternut squash
Fuyu Persimmons
Fuji apples
Napa cabbage
Red leaf lettuce

Rancho Santa Cecilia provided:
Hass Avocados
Satsuma tangerines

Tierra Miguel Foundation, a biodynamic grower, provided:
Horehound mint

Weiser Farms provided carrots and Russian Banana potatoes.

Winnetka Farms provided Italian salad greens.

And Silver Lake Farms provided microgreens: pea shoot, radish shoots, and arugula shoots.

Fuyu and Hachiya are the two most common varieties of persimmons. Fuyus are firm when ripe, while Hachiyas are best when soft. Hachiyas are great for things like persimmon pudding, bread and cake because the pulp can be easily mashed (think banana bread). You can make baked goods from Fuyus, too. However, because they're firm, they're usually peeled and chopped and they remain discreet bits in your baked goods.

Fuyus are perfect for drying. They're quite beautiful when dried and can be eaten like any other dried fruit: plain as a snack, mixed into oatmeal or granola, even chopped and added to savory dishes like rice pilaf or stewed chicken. I like them in salads, too.

It's unbelievably easy to dry persimmons. Simply wash and dry the fruit and slice them crosswise (horizontally) into 1-4 to 1/8 inch slices. A little lemon or lime juice will prevent them from turning brown and enhance their flavor. Then use the drying method or your choice.

I like to dry fruit in my oven. You'll need an oven thermometer to ensure that the temperature stays around 150 degrees F. Place the slices on cookie sheets lined with racks so that air can circulate. Turn the slices every 2-3 hours. They'll take about 10-12 hours to dry, depending on the thickness of your slices and the temperature of your oven. Convection ovens might be a little quicker because of the circulating air. You want them to be deep orange in color and not sticky. Let the dried persimmons cool before storing them. Well-dried persimmons can be stored in a can or a jar and do not need refrigeration.

If you have a solar dehydrator, you can use that instead. Erik Knutzen and Kelly Coyne discuss solar dehydrators in their wonderful book, The Urban Homestead.



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