I am on a one-woman mission to introduce everyone to the gloriousness that is the persimmon. This little orange fruit is often overlooked on store shelves, and I’m determined to change that!
Persimmons are in season during the fall and winter months—when many summertime fruits are looking lackluster—and they are packed full of sweet, tangy flavor. They work beautifully in sweet dishes (like my Bourbon Persimmon Bread), as well as in savory applications, like this bright and beautiful Persimmon and Pomegranate Salad.
What are the different kinds of persimmons?
When you hit up your supermarket in the cooler months, you’re likely to find two different kinds of persimmons—astringent and non-astringent. The kind you grab matters because while both are delicious, they have very different textures and ripening patterns.
Most of us will see these listed under the name Hachiya at the grocery store. They are acorn-shaped, and these types of persimmons are very, very soft when ripe. They are called astringent, because if you eat them before they are ripe—when they are at all firm—they have a mouth-puckering astringent quality to them. When ripe, they are sweeter than candy and have a bit of a citrus flavor to them. Because they are so soft when ripe, these are good for baking. You’ll find them used frequently in breads, cakes, puddings, smoothies, and ice cream.
If you are lucky enough to have an American Persimmon tree nearby that you can forage for persimmons like we do, they are also astringent persimmons. This means that unless they feel incredibly soft (like pudding in a water balloon soft), don’t pop them in your mouth! In fact, trying to get me to eat non-ripe persimmons was one of my big brother’s favorite childhood pastimes. That and getting me to smell his shoes. Brothers are weird.
Next to the Hachiya persimmons in your grocery store, you’ll probably see Fuyu persimmons—which are shaped more like a tomato. These are non-astringent, meaning you can eat them at any stage in the ripening process. You eat these more like an apple, slicing them into crisp slices. They tend to be a bit less sweet than astringent varieties, but still super delicious and flavorful! Non-astringent Fuyu persimmons are what we use here. Because of their firm texture, they hold up beautifully in a salad recipe.
What if I can’t find persimmons?
Persimmons are in season during the fall and winter months, so a large supermarket with a robust produce section should have them in stock starting in early autumn. If you’re having trouble tracking them down, ripe but firm pears or apples would also work in this recipe.
Okay, now what about pomegranate? What are pomegranate arils?
Pomegranate arils are the seeds of a pomegranate—and the part you eat! The little crunchy seeds are wrapped in a sack of delicious pomegranate juice. When you bite into one, you get a burst of juice and then the crunch of the seed. You can purchase whole pomegranates, and then cut them open to remove the seeds, or many grocery stores sell the pomegranate arils separately.
How do you make candied maple walnuts?
While the stars of this salad show are the pomegranate and persimmon, an incredible supporting actor is the candied maple walnuts. These crunchy, sweet, and salty walnuts take just a few minutes to make, and they add such an incredible texture and flavor burst to this salad! All you do is mix together walnuts with maple syrup and sea salt in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has thickened up. Then, once the walnuts have cooled, you break them over your salad.
What is a vinaigrette? Is it the same as vinegar?
For this salad, we’re making a maple vinaigrette—which is a salad dressing made with vinegar as a base ingredient. It is not the same as straight vinegar. This dressing is incredible on any sort of hearty salad, especially one that includes fruit.
To make a vinaigrette, it’s as simple as combining vinegar (in this case, balsamic vinegar) with oil (we’re using extra virgin olive oil) and ingredients to give flavor. We mix ours with maple syrup, Dijon mustard, garlic, and cinnamon. All of those ingredients go into a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and then you shake, shake, shake it up until the mixture is emulsified—meaning it is mixed together until smooth and creamy.
This salad is the perfect in-season option to add some colorful freshness to your fall or winter dinner menu! Enjoy.
Looking for more wintertime salad recipes?