Persimmons please palates

The West Australian

Persimmons are one of the lesser-known fruits which are becoming fashionable, with this season's sales volumes more than doubling when compared to last season, according to Mercer Mooney saleswoman Carla Fry.

Mercer Mooney has the largest market floor at the Canning Vale markets.

"Consumers are willing and able to experience new flavours in the fruit and vegetables they purchase," Ms Fry said.

"Persimmons have a wonderfully unique, sweet flavour and they are great for kids' lunchboxes as persimmons do not turn brown when sliced."

Persimmons have traditionally been a fruit of choice for the Asian market, but are making quick inroads into western diets.

The large, vibrant orange fruit has been used in an ever-increasing manner in fashionable cooking programs and are a fantastic ingredient in salads, cakes, deserts, stewed or as a filling snack on their own.

"There are two different types of persimmon - the astringent, or soft persimmon, which many parents and grandparents would remember from their childhood," Ms Fry said.

"The more prevalent persimmon for this generation are non-astringent, or firm-fleshed persimmons, often referred to as sweet persimmons or fuyu, which are nothing like their soft counterparts.

"The hard persimmons are eaten exactly like an apple. The skin is edible and you take bites out of the flesh around a central core."

Fruit grower Brett DelSimone, of Spring Hill Orchard in Roleystone, has seized upon the increased interest.

"We were seeking to diversify our business model and once the apples and pears trees aged to a point in which they had to be replaced, we saw a fantastic opportunity for a niche market to expand," he said.

Mr DelSimone has 500 persimmon trees planted under protective netting to shield the fruit from fruit fly and birds and has more trees arriving this year.

"I see a bright future for persimmons - they are visually attractive, provide great health benefits and are quite filling, so provide great value for money as a day or night-time snack," he said.

"There are a few Eastern States and New Zealand imports in the marketplace, but the travel time to arrive in WA means they have nowhere near the freshness, crisp bite and storage life of WA's fresh supply."

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