The Benefits of Persimmons

Persimmons are a surprisingly beneficial fruit, they were originally cultivated in China more than 10,000 years ago

By Hakimah Raziya A. Mumin

Persimmons are a surprisingly beneficial fruit.  They were originally cultivated in China more than 10,000 years ago. China continues to remain the largest consumer and cultivator of this fruit. Persimmons contain vitamins A, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, copper, and selenium.  Besides all of these amazing properties, it has been used for many medical illnesses in America and worldwide. 

 Chinese traditional medicine uses persimmons for angina, hypertension, atherosclerosis, and infectious diseases.  This is because persimmons are rich in antioxidants and flavonoids, natural substances found in fruit and vegetables known for their beneficial effects on health.  Kaempferol is a well-known flavonoid, it fights oxidative damage and decreases the risk of heart disease. Kaempferol has anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties. 

 Persimmons are one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. Persimmon tea has been cultivated in this country, (in written knowledge) since the ’70s. However, there were recorded sea voyages that place it here much earlier. Diospyros Virginiana is a species of persimmon common to the United States. In 1851 Admiral Perry brought persimmons from Japan to the U.S.A. 

Persimmons have anti-tumor effects and improve joint health, eye health, lung diseases, spleen, stomach, and intestinal malfunctions, and it improves the cranial nerves. Persimmons reduce fatty liver disease. The tea is high in vitamin C and promotes a healthy metabolism.  To many people, it is considered one of the best-tasting teas in the world.  

The Cherokee Indians would make tea out of the leaves. The leaves taste similar to sassafras.  The Cherokee used persimmons for sore throat, thrush, and liver ailments. They chewed the bark for heartburn and toothaches. They also made bread, puddings, cakes, and beverages out of persimmons. They mixed the persimmon pulp with acorn meal, and cornmeal to make thick soups or bread. 

There is a downside to persimmon fruit consumption. Eating too many too often can cause a condition called phytobezoar or Bezoars for short. Bezoars is a condition where the chemical reaction between the stomach acid and the tannins in the persimmons react with each other.  This causes constipation in some people, and in others, it has a laxative effect. And still in others, it has no effect at all. Everyone’s constitution is different.  Bezoars are in many foods, not just persimmons. They are in beans, celery, prunes, flax seeds, raisins, leeks, pumpkins, and root vegetables. 

Persimmon leaf tea is used for weight loss.

 The leaves lower lipid levels. This is because the leaves and the fruit are high in fiber. The leaves have the same properties as the fruit. You can drink tea and you can make many delicious desserts out of the fruit. Here are a few recipes:              

Persimmon Chutney

2lbs persimmon

3 ½ cups water

1 ½ cups raisins

3 T. grated ginger

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1 ¼ cups brown sugar or coconut sugar or jaggery

½ lb dried apricots

1 T. mustard seeds

1 ½ cups white vinegar or apple cider vinegar

2 T. olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

Salt to taste

On a low flame, add the garlic and bring to a slight simmer, not to burn. Add mustard seed, cayenne pepper, and ginger.  Add the water and bring to a rolling boil. Add the apricots, raisins, vinegar, salt and sugar. Make a pulp of the persimmons. Add this last. Stir the mixture until it is of the proper consistency that you prefer.

 Persimmon Spice Cookies

1 cup sugar

2 cups flour

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup melted butter

½ tsp. of the following cinnamon, nutmeg cloves

1 cup persimmon pulp

1 tsp. baking soda

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup raisins

1 tsp. salt

1 egg

Preheat the oven. Cream the butter and sugar, and add the egg. Mix the baking soda with the pulp. Mix together all of the dry ingredients. Drop a spoonful onto a hot cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for fifteen minutes.                         

Persimmon Fruit Leather

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, or in a dehydrator to 135 degrees. Wash persimmons well and place them in a blender to puree.  Pour the mixture onto a baking sheet that is lined in parchment paper. You may need to make more than one tray depending on the amount left.  Smooth the mixture out flat with a spatula. Bake for approximately 2 1/2 hours, or until the leather sets. Let it cool. If there are crispy edges they should blend and soften as they cool.   The leather can be rolled up in parchment paper and stored in airtight glass jars.

You can also make a persimmon smoothie once a week, or persimmon pudding. This fruit is very versatile!