This easy, super-delicious and totally vegan gelato (slash ice cream, slash sorbet) is the simplest of desserts – sweet, subtle and dreamy. Lovely eaten by itself, or served with a bowl of hot fruit crumble or pie. There’s no need to add any sugar because ripe persimmons are so naturally lovely and sweet (more on persimmon ripeness below). So what does a persimmon taste like? It’s a little hard to put into words, but one description that tickled my fancy said: ‘When ripe, persimmons possess layers of subtle flavour reminiscent of pear, dates and brown sugar with nuances of cinnamon.’ Suits me fine, I freakin’ love all of those things.
Also, just a note – having been to Italy many, many times and shoveled probably hundreds of scoops of gelato into my greedy mouth, I can happily say this stuff is up there. Something about it just takes me straight back.
Prep time – 10 minutes plus 10 hours freezing time
Serves – 2-3
2 large ripe* persimmons
¼ cup coconut cream
2 tbsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Pop the persimmons in the freezer whole, and leave them overnight or all day. Remove from the freezer and run them under a warm tap for a few seconds to soften the skin. Peel with a peeler.
Persimmons don’t have any seeds or a core, so it’s nice and easy to chop them. I put them upside down (stem down) and carefully cut them in half first (fingers well clear, please), then into quarters, then pieces. Discard the stem. The smaller the chunks are, the easier it will be for the food processor to whizz them.
Add the frozen chunks to a food processor (or blender, or bullet) with the coconut milk, lemon juice and salt. Process until very smooth – this part might take a little patience, depending on your food processor. You’ll probably have to stop and start it quite a few times to scrape the sides with a spatula and shove the stubborn chunks back down into the mixture. Have faith – it will eventually come together into a smooth ice cream-like consistency.
Ideally, serve the gelato straight away as it will melt quickly – use a warmed ice cream scoop. If you don’t need it right away, or if you want to serve it a bit firmer so it really scoops nicely, pop it in a container in the freezer until you need it (if it’s in there any longer than half an hour or so, it will go hard and you’ll just need to let it sit out a while to soften again).
Know your persimmon!
‘Fuyu’ persimmons are the variety that we are most familiar with here in New Zealand. They’re only in season for a short time, and the tragic part is that it’s not widely known exactly what to do with them. It’s pretty easy – you can just eat them like you would an apple, either skin and all, or you can peel and slice them (a squeeze of lemon or lime can be nice to help bring the flavour out, too). Or roast slices with a little cinnamon and sugar and serve on porridge or cereal, or dehydrate in slices, or make into chutney or relish. You can stew the flesh and use it as you would apple sauce, or add slices to a pie or crumble with apple and pears. Keep some slices in the freezer ready for smoothies. Interestingly, the flesh of a persimmon doesn’t oxidise and go brown like an apple would, so slices of persimmon make a nice addition to school lunch boxes. I just actually made an autumn tomato soup, and added a sliced persimmon along when I roasted the tomatoes, onions, garlic and herbs. Add a lovely sweetness.
*When are they ripe?
Persimmons don’t soften when they’re ripe, so just look for a nice deep orange colour – they will still be firm when ready to eat. Even when they aren’t quite ripe, they’re very sweet and not astringent, so you can still eat them.