Chocolate Persimmon (Diospyros digyna).
The chocolate persimmon is native to the dry forests of central Mexico. The Chocolate persimmon (Diospyros digyna), a member of the persimmon family, is native along both coasts of Mexico from Jalisco to Chiapas, Veracruz and Yucatan. Outside of Mexico it is cultivated in the Philippines and the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Hawaii and of course Florida. It is also call black sapote, chocolate pudding fruit.
It is an attractive evergreen tree, 25 ft or more at maturity. Most of the chocolate persimmon fruit in South Florida ripen in October through March at a time when we have few tropical fruits to enjoy. Because there are both male and female trees when grown from seed it is preferable to use grafted trees, which can bear within 3 years.
The chocolate persimmon’s shape is that of a green tomato. The flesh is dark brown or black, rich and sweet in flavor. The fruit are picked when full size but unripe (olive-green color) and allowed to ripen in 10 days at room temperature. The fruit is soft when fully ripe. The fruit can be used fresh or frozen. Ripe fruit will store for 3 or 4 days under refrigeration. For longer storage, (6 months) pulp should be removed from the fruit and frozen.
Chocolate persimmon fruit are rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, and have a relatively high amount of potassium. This tropical fruit is a distinctive element of South Florida cuisine, but must be fully soft before consumption or use. The fruit by itself has a bland flavor, and its brilliant gel texture develops caramel flavors when cooked, making it a great base and desirable filling for pies and other pastry. It is also made into ice cream.
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