It looks like a tomato, but it’s not. It’s Sharon Fruit… a cousin to the Persimmon — well, sort of a Persimmon species. There are two types of Persimmon… astringent and non-astringent. The Sharon Fruit is a non-astringent type, which makes it a bit more popular — especially when it’s in season (fall through mid-winter).
The fruit is originally from Israel, but is grown all over the world now. It is seedless and has more edible parts than it’s Persimmon cousin. Essentially, everything is edible… including the skin (which needs to be peeled on a Persimmon).
Like a tomato, the fruit is best when left to ripe at room temperature until the texture becomes soft and the color deepens to a darker orange. However, unlike a Persimmon — it won’t be horribly sour if you try to eat it before it is ripe (this is a property of the non-astringent types).
The skin of the Sharon Fruit is waxy in nature and considered “thin”… though I would classify it a bit thicker. If I was comparing it to another fruit, I would say the skin is at least double the thickness of a plum and has a slight snap when bitten. I have not tried to take a direct bite out of the fruit, but rather — I like it sliced into the sections.
The flesh is juicy and pulpy (often called jelly-like). And like I said earlier, there are no seeds — this is a seedless variety, other species do have pits… and they are supposedly poisonous — so be cautious! The flavor is very sweet and reminiscent of a mango… without the fibrous textures or pain-in-the-butt pit. I like adding it to my juices because it gives a sweet, almost honey-like mango taste without the effort needed to juice a mango.
In fact, the fruit is sometimes called a Korean Mango. The flavor has also been compared to a Date, which is probably the “honey-ness” I taste. The fruit can be used raw, cooked, candied, in preserves, baked goods and also makes a good fruit leather. It’s a good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A and Fiber. Lastly, the fruit is especially popular during New Year’s celebrations in China.
A few years ago I bought a Persimmon at Super 88 Market (an Asian grocery store). It was so awful that I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to eat it. I understand now that it was because Persimmon contain those nasty tannins that make it very sour and bitter if it is not REALLY ripe. So when I was at Russo’s Market (yet again) and saw people snatching up these Sharon Fruit… I became intrigued and I was pleasantly surprised by how good they were.
So… moral of the story? Definitely try these beauties… just make sure you are buying Sharon Fruit and NOT Persimmon (unless you are willing to let it get super ripe, peel it and avoid the pit).