Drink In Persimmon Season

A sweet recipe for a persimmon Old Fashioned.

Food and Wine Editor
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I distinctly remember the first time I tasted a persimmon: I was 19 and visiting Israe l— on a Birthright trip, of course — and for the fifth morning in a row was hitting the breakfast buffet, hard: I had fallen in love with the savory Israeli morning meal, habitually filling up on chopped salad, squares of fresh white cheese, and rounds of warm pita. I had hardly any room left on my plate when I came to the fruit area of the buffet table and spied a bowl of bright-orange, roundish fruits that looked something like an underripe tomato. Taking note of my curiosity, a hotel worker said, “They’re persimmons, and they’re delicious.”

She was right: taking a spoon to the soft, jelly-like flesh, I gulped down my first persimmon: it was honey-sweet and incredibly juicy. Soon afterwards, I ate my second persimmon.

The fruits, which originate in Asia, are extremely popular in the Middle East. Israel is the world’s second-largest exporter of persimmons, which are grown in the Sharon valley under the name Sharon Fruit, and they’re in season from January through March. So get them while they’re hot! The fruits are readily found in gourmet supermarkets, and while they can be pricey —about a dollar apiece — they’re certainly worth it.

Just as I like to eat in season, I also like to drink in season, and I often incorporate my produce into the cocktails I shake up at home. The bright flavor of persimmons is a wonderful match for smooth, bold bourbon: blended into a Technicolor purée and sweetened with a spiced simple syrup, a spoonful or two of persimmon makes an unforgettable Old Fashioned. Just be sure to try it out before March.

Ingredients: 
For the Persimmon Purée:
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
Small piece cinnamon stick
2 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
2 medium persimmons, peeled and cut into chunks
For the Old Fashioned:
2 ounces bourbon
2 tablespoons persimmon purée
4-5 generous dashes orange bitters
Orange slice, for garnish
Recipe Steps: 
To make the persimmon purée: begin by making the spiced simple syrup. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, cinnamon stick and cardamom pods. Simmer until sugar dissolves; cover and set aside. Add persimmon cubes to a food processor or blender and blend on high. While machine is running, add 5 tablespoons simple syrup.
To mix the drink, fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add bourbon, persimmon purée and bitters. Shake well, then strain into a chilled highball glass. Garnish with orange slice and serve.