Another rainbow assortment today:
I’ll admit right off that I left a bunch of chard in exchange for the radicchio and an extra cabbage, and I would have left the beets if I had unearthed them. I have a lot of roasted beets already.
Clockwise from the bottom we have: carrots, potatoes, eggs, apples, beets, lettuce, baby bok choy, scallions, basil, collards, cabbage, radicchio and eggplant. The scallions say stir fry to me, maybe even eggplant with garlic sauce, although I’m also partial to spaghetti alla Norma. The basil is so beautiful that it’s a shame I’m going out tonight; I never have much luck keeping it nice. And I’ll grill the radicchio while I still can. We’ll see about everything else.
This time of year, I become a dried persimmon evangelist. If persimmons come up in casual conversation or (more likely) in email exchanges in our neighborhood mailing list, I pipe up with my plea that people try dehydrating Hachiya persimmons. These aren’t the cute, squat Fuyus that you see in salads, if you’re lucky, and which you can eat as soon as they turn orange. These are the pointy ones that are inedible raw until they reach the consistency of a water balloon, although much less durable. And they must be picked off the tree unripe (although still a vibrant orange) so you have to keep them around the house while they ripen. They’re pretty, but oh so fragile, and they seem to mold in an instant if their skins break at all.
Of course, that’s an entirely necessary step if you’re going to bake with them, or use them in my favorite holiday dessert, steamed persimmon pudding. But when life gives your persimmons, it’s nice to have something to do with them right away.
Enter the magic of dehydration. If you’ve never experienced a Hachiya persimmon before, you may wonder why it’s necessary to let them get gloopy, when the lovely Fuyu can be eaten out of hand. That’s because unripe Hachiyas are full of mouth puckering tannins. Bite into one all unaware, and it will take hours for your mouth to get back to normal. But dehydrating unripe Hachiya persimmons magically neutralizes these tannins, leaving a nice dried fruit somewhat similar to a dried apricot.
I core and peel the firm fruit and slice them about 1/2 inch thick, then dry in my dehydrator at 135 degrees F for at least 24 hours. The ones pictured above were dried for 36 hours (because I forgot to unplug the dehydrator last night) and are quite firm, but not brittle. I still keep them in the fridge, so they don’t mold, but at Christmas time they vanish.
Any breaks in the skin of an unripe Hachiya condemns it to moldy waste; dehydration is a good way to salvage broken fruit. Since persimmon season is upon us, the dehydrator will be running for the next couple months.