There I was, surrounded by stacked crates and huge bags of fruit and veg, when my eye settled on a flat box packed with perfectly squat, golden Fuji (aka Fuyu and/or Sharonfruit in the UK) Persimmons, nestled together like tiny pumpkins.
Persimmons always seemed so exotic to me as a child, especially as the only evidence I had of their existence back then was in a Japanese fairytale book that I read and re-read so many times, lingering over a drawing of a juicy Persimmon, willing it to materialize so that I might sink my teeth into it.
My first experience of the real thing was a bit disappointing; probably because it wasn’t ripe. But now, gazing at this abundant display in Costco and armed with the knowledge of how to successfully ripen fruit (stick ’em in a brown paper bag for a few days to allow the natural gasses to be released, until they’re juicy but still firm, with a little jelly-ish heart) – I piled a tray of the golden fruit into my cart.
Then I spied a similar box of Clementines. Now I’m starting to feel really Christmassy. These weren’t those tiny little tangerines of long-ago English Christmases – fragrant but hard to peel, with each containing about 60 seeds so that spitting was in order; nor were they the most lazy of citrus fruits, the Satsuma, whose coarse ungrate-able skin is so loose that the flesh rattles around inside. No, these were Clementines – smooth-skinned, seedless and wonderfully perfumed.
Now on a roll, I bought some Medjool dates as well. Dates have to be the most evocatively Yuletideian fruit of all for me; I’m recalling those long oval boxes, packed with neat rows of impossibly sticky little brown soldiers, still attached to their stalk. What a sweet, glorious mess for a small child to find in their Christmas stocking! I prefer Medjool dates these days.
Then I saw the Pomegranates. Of course, you can buy ready cleaned and packaged Pom seeds nowadays but they’re expensive and where’s the fun factor here? Given the pomegranate a very firm roll-around on your work surface to loosen up the seeds inside. When you halve the fruit and scrape the seeds into a bowl, I recommend wearing an apron as the juice can splatter and stain. It doesn’t take long to remove all the white pithy stuff and you’ll end up with what looks like a bowl full of rubies that will keep covered in the fridge for several days.
So here it is – one of the most luscious winter fruits salads I’ve ever tasted – so naturally rich that it needs no accompaniment in my opinion, other than a glass or two of chilled champagne perhaps.
WINTER FRUIT SALAD of PERSIMMONS, POMEGRANATES, DATES & CLEMENTINES
4 ripe Fuji (aka Fuyu) Persimmons, stalks carefully cut out; quartered and peeled like an apple then sliced into bite sized pieces
12 fat Medjool dates, stones removed and thinly sliced
The juice of 4 Clementines and the finely grated zest of two
2 generous tablespoons of Pomegranate seeds
Combine everything together well in a bowl, cover and allow to sit at room temp for a couple of hours or, cover and chill overnight. The juice will have become syrupy and the Persimmon will have a slightly translucent quality. Once you have that, its ready to eat – and its absolutely wonderful!