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Kinglet persimmons can widely vary in shape and size depending on the fruit’s growing environment, and generally has an ovate, round, to oblate appearance. The skin is waxy, firm, and lightly wrinkled, showcasing a vibrant, dark orange-red hue, and on the top of the fruit, there are flat, papery green-brown leaves surrounding a thin and fibrous, dark brown stem. Underneath the thick skin, the flesh is soft, semi-mealy, aqueous, and dark brown, encasing many oval, brown seeds. Kinglet persimmons, when ripe, have a very sweet flavor and a juicy, creamy texture.
Kinglet persimmons are available in the fall through early winter.
Kinglet persimmons, botanically classified as Diospyros kaki, are deciduous fruits that are members of the Ebenaceae family. Also known as Kololek and Korolyok, Kinglet persimmons are believed to be a variety of hyakume, which is a Japanese persimmon known for its very sweet, juicy flesh. Kinglet persimmons lack an astringency generally associated with persimmons and are one of the most popular varieties sold in fresh markets in Central Asia.
Kinglet persimmons are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that can protect against vision loss, increase collagen production, and boost the immune system. The fruits also contain magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, potassium, and manganese.
Kinglet persimmons are best suited for raw, cooked, and dried applications. When fresh, the fruit can be consumed straight out-of-hand, or it can be tossed into salads and fruit bowls. Kinglet persimmons can also be baked into bread, tarts, and cakes, roasted with meats such as poultry or beef, cooked into puddings, jams, and jellies, incorporated into casseroles, or used to flavor wine and cider. In addition to raw and cooked applications, Kinglet persimmons are popularly dried in central Asia and are consumed as a sweet, sticky, snack during the winter season. Kinglet persimmons pair well with pomegranate seeds, pears, nuts such as walnuts and almonds, vanilla, cinnamon, and citrus. The fruits will keep for a couple of weeks when stored in the refrigerator.
In southeastern Armenia, persimmons are a significant source of income for rural families, and the fruit is viewed as one of the integral components of traditional dishes, typically dried in the fall for use over the holiday season. Through small farms, persimmons such as the Kinglet are customarily peeled and hung on long strings with hooks creating rows and rows of vibrant orange and red, vertical garlands. The brightly colored display is a symbol of the sweet treats to come, and the peeled fruits are left to sway in the fresh air and dry for at least one month. Once dried, the persimmons develop a sticky, sweet, and chewy flesh, similar in consistency to a date, and are sold in local markets for use as a snack, dessert, and appetizer. Dried persimmons are traditionally consumed over New Year’s in Armenia as a sweet element to a multi-course, savory meal. When presented, the dried persimmons are delicately stacked with other dried fruits and nuts in a small tower on decorative plates and are eaten throughout the meal.
Kinglet persimmons are descendants of original persimmon varieties that are native to mountainous regions of China and have been cultivated for over two thousand years. The fruits were then spread to neighboring countries such as Japan and Korea via trade routes, and over time, the fruits continued to spread across the continent of Asia where they arrived in the Black Sea region and into Russia approximately two hundred years ago. Since their introduction, the original persimmon varieties were highly cultivated, and new varieties were developed, such as Kinglet persimmons, to meet changing market demands. Today Kinglet persimmons are believed to be a variety of the hyakume persimmon and are widely cultivated across small farms in central Asia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, and Russia.