Lately, autumn in the Bay Area means beautiful warm weather. In the Bi-Rite Market Produce Department it’s all about the transition from juicy and mouthwatering summer fruit to fall fruit that offers a much different eating experience. Local apples and pears are always an exciting crop in the fall, but there are a couple other crops that don’t get the recognition they deserve. Persimmons and pomegranates not only represent the colors of autumn, they add unique flavors and texture to seasonal dishes.
Growing up on the East Coast, I had never even heard of a persimmon! In Northern California they are growing in back yards throughout the Bay. The squat-shaped Fuyu Persimmon is the most common variety— they are similar to an apple in the sense that you can eat it out of your hand when it’s firm in texture and ripe. A Fuyu is ripe when the skin is bright orange, but depending on the exact variety or the growing region it can be pale in color. Fuyus have a nice crunchy texture and the flavor that is mildly sweet with hints of cinnamon. They are a great piece of fruit to chop up and add to savory salads and salsa since they add perfect texture and sweetness. Fuyus are very high in potassium and lycopene (a cancer-fighting antioxidant.)
The elongated, oval-shaped Hachiya Persimmon is a whole different ball game than the Fuyu. First off, a Hachiya can’t be eaten when it is firm like a Fuyu, due to its astringent qualities. The fruit needs to ripen up to a “pudding-like” texture, and the piece of fruit should feel like a balloon in your hand. Once the Hachiya is ripe, the easiest way to eat it would be to peel of the top layer of skin and to spoon out the sweet, silky, and smooth pulp. The Produce Crew at Bi-Rite spends a lot of time ripening the Hachiya Persimmons, so that we have them ready to eat when we put them on the shelf. Many other retailers sell them in a rock-hard state and it may take 4-7 days to ripen on the kitchen counter before they are at their desired ripeness. Hachiyas are very versatile in the kitchen, from spreading the ripe pulp on toast like jam to making persimmon pudding and cakes.
For the past 10 years, from fall through the holidays, we’ve been lucky enough to have beautiful “Wonderful” Pomegranates straight from Balakian Family Farm in Reedley, California. Like most fruit, the longer the fruit gets to hang on the tree and ripen, the better the flavor will be. If a pomegranate is harvested too early the juice and arils (seeds) will be tart in flavor. The flavor of the Balakian Pomegranates is perfectly balanced between sweet/tart and the arils are plump and juicy. It can be challenging to pick out a ripe pomegranate, but we are fortunate enough to work with a farm that harvests them when they are truly ready, taking the hard work out of choosing the perfect fruit. Pomegranate arils are a great addition to chicory salad and also pair nicely with the flavor of persimmons.
Come in to either Bi-Rite Market today and have a taste of our incredible fall fruits!