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Kitaro persimmons are larger than the more common fuyu persimmons. They have a very round shape and are short and squat, each with a permanent calyx circling the stem. The thin, smooth skin is bright orange and has an occasional red blush. The muted orange flesh is firm with a soft texture and offers a sweet flavor. Kitaro persimmons are often seedless but may contain a few thin, brown seeds.
Kitaro persimmons are available for a short time in the late summer and the early fall months.
Kitaro persimmons are a Japanese variety known as Kaki Kitaro or Shintaro in Japan. They are botanically classified as Diospyros kaki and are a non-astringent, or sweet, variety. Persimmons are the national fruit of Japan and are often given as gifts during the fall months. Kitaro persimmons are one of over 1,000 different varieties grown in Japan.
Kitaro persimmons are high in sugar, dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, and manganese, an essential nutrient that benefits the brain and nervous system and helps activate enzymes in the body. They are a good source of copper, potassium and vitamin B6, and contain smaller amounts of vitamins E and K, other B-complex vitamins, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron and zinc. Carotenoids in persimmons, like zeaxanthin, promote healthy eyesight.
Kitaro persimmons are used in both raw and cooked applications. They are eaten when the flesh is still firm and crisp, or when fully ripe and soft to the touch. Unripe Kitaro persimmons are sliced and enjoyed like apples for dessert or snack. They are diced and added to green or fruit salads or used for salsas or chutneys. Cut the fruits in half and scoop the pulp out with a spoon to puree for sauces, beverages, or frozen desserts. Ripen Kitaro persimmons at room temperature and store in the refrigerator for up to one week.
In Japan and Southeast Asia, each Kitaro persimmon is placed in a protective, foam netting and individually wrapped in cellophane. Different varieties of persimmons are displayed in neat, colorful rows. They are often sold in packages of 3 to 5 fruits.
Kitaro persimmons are native to Japan’s Tottori Prefecture, located on the northern coast of the country’s main island. The region is well-known for its apple and pear orchards. Non-astringent persimmons are native to Japan and are often referred to as Japanese persimmons. Kitaro persimmons are most likely found in Southeast Asia and Indonesia.