Persimmons and pomegranates are rather persnickety specimens of fall fruit–the former needing nothing but time and patience for its flesh to go from hard and astringent to meltingly sweet and smooth, and the latter requiring a bit of excavation to find the juicy seeds inside.
There are a few different varieties of persimmon available. Some varieties, like the fuyu, are somewhat firm-fleshed and can be eaten like an apple. Other varieties, like the hachiya (gesundheit!), must be completely ripe and very soft before eating. I’d say the hachiya is my favorite type of persimmon.
If you happen to buy a hard unripe hachiya, just shove it in a brown paper bag with a banana, or a tomato, or both, and the persimmon should soften up in a few days. Once it’s ripe and very mushy, you can cut a hachiya in half and then eat it out of the skin with a spoon. The flesh of a ripened hachiya is earthy-sweet, and almost jelly-like.
Gloopy, but tasty.
Pomegranates, on the other hand, require a little bit more work. You have to first lop off its crown, score its leathery skin with a sharp knife, and then pull it apart to find its sweet-tart ruby-red seeds.
Once the innards of the pomegranate are exposed, I usually place everything in a giant bowl o’ water and gently pull the seeds away from the white pith. The seeds sink to the bottom and the pith and skin float to the top.
All of the juice is in the red seeds, so if you’re gentle with the
seeds, you won’t waste any juice. But if you’re a wee rough, then the
water in your bowl will be bloodied with pomegranate plasma, you scoundrel! After gently separating seeds from pith, you can just skim the skin and pith away, then drain the seeds.
There are a number of things you can do with pomegranate seeds. You can sprinkle ’em on salads, on ice cream, or on your morning bowl o’ Wheaties.
Or, together with the flesh of a hachiya persimmon and a few other goodies, you can use the pomegranate seeds in an autumn version of halo-halo.
Why, hello hello!
Halo-Halo is very much a summertime Filipino treat with layers of shaved ice, sweet beans, macapuno strings, ube, jack fruit, and any other number of sweet bits. And although pomegranates and persimmons are largely autumnal fruits, that doesn’t mean they can’t be used in halo-halo for a tasty dessert.
In a normal Halo-Halo, after the sweets are layered with shaved ice in a tall glass, some evaporated milk is poured in and allowed to seap into the ice. Then the whole shebang is topped with ice cream.
For my fall weather halo-halo, I used some of the Ube jam (it’s still good!) that was given to me by Mila, some macapuno (coconut) strings, and some pomegranate and persimmon. Since I didn’t have any canned evaporated milk, I just poured in some milk I had in my refrigerator. Lastly, I topped off my halo-halo with some ice cream–homemade Macapuno Ice Cream would be nice, but I opted for homemade Ube Ice Cream.
I do want to stress the importance of shaved ice in a halo-halo. I don’t have an ice shaver, so I crushed some ice in my blender–this was not a suitable substitute! I had to crunch through larger pieces of ice as I ate my halo-halo, and crunching ice/breaking teeth is no fun. So if you do make some halo-halo, make sure you have a very powerful blender, or invest in some sort of ice shaving contraption–for the life of me I couldn’t find the manual hand-cranked ice shavers I remember my mother using when I was a kid.
Also, I don’t think a recipe is necessary here. Just layer sweet things with shaved ice in a tall glass, pour in some milk, then top with your favorite ice cream. For a more traditional halo-halo, Asian markets carry jars of sweet preserved beans, ube jam, macapuno, jack fruit, gelatin, etc. There are also jars labeled as “halo-halo mix” that have a combination of these items all in one jar.
And lastly, halo-halo is literally translated to mix-mix (so I’m told). So after I eat the ice cream, I mix-mix the rest of the contents with a spoon and make haste with the goodness!
I must say that the pomegranate seeds and the persimmon lend a very different twist, but also very welcome fall flavors, to an otherwise sweet and summery treat.