Monday, November 16, 2009

roadside persimmon-like fruit tree

the other day, while walking from the railway mall to the bukit timah nature reserve, i came across this persimmon look-alike fruit by the roadside, just before the former bukit timah fire station. two of the ripe fruits had fallen to the ground. the fruit was not as big as the normal persimmon sold at fruit stalls or the supermarket. the tree seems like a young tree, not taller than 4 metres. the smell of the ripe fruit is similar to that of the persimmon although it appears to be seedless. it may be the seedless variety, just like the sharon persimmon from israel.

surfing the internet, i found out that the climatic conditions suitable for growing persimmon is the mediterranean or sub-tropical type of climate. what that means is that it could still survive in our tropical type of climate, though it might not thrive. in asia, china, japan, korea and vietnam grow a lot of persimmons.

in the past, we used to eat the soft and fibrous type (the one directly above) which is very sweet. these days, we can get two types of fresh persimmons - the soft and the crunchy types. the crunchy type of persimmon comes to us from south korea. the cost is about the same, between forty and sixty cents a fruit. bigger fruit may cost more.

i do not think that the fruit i found belongs to the persimmon family because if you look at the persimmons, there are 4 or 6 sepals that form the calyx at the top of the fruit. in the case of the chinese persimmon, there are six sepals. the korean persimmon - the crunchy type - has four sepals. the look-alike has 6 sepals but they are not symmetrically arranged.

persimmons can be eaten fresh or dried. when i was a boy, i enjoyed eating the dried persimmon. it is like a candy. if i am not mistaken, dried persimmons were cheaper than fresh persimmons. (today, this is not necessary the case; a pack of four dried (white type) persimmon sells for $2.75 at cold storage supermarket). we used to get ours from the kampong provision shop. they were also sold in the chinese medical shop. these days, you may still be able to buy them from some supermarkets, some medical halls or some of the older shops in chinatown. surprisingly, i could not find the dried persimmons in sheng siong and ntuc but i found them being sold at cold storage supermarket.

some dried persimmons have a thin layer of white coating. the white comes from sugar in the fruit that has crystallised. you could tell that someone had been eating dried persimmon as his lips would all be smeared with the white powder. the same evidence could also be found on his fingers and sometimes on the clothes.

this dried persimmon (above) does not have the white coating. a packet of 7 pieces is being sold for between $1.50 and $2.00. my friend who visited guilin in china saw strings of them being hung out to dry outside the houses of the villagers.


Victor said...

YG, did you eat the persimmon-like fruit that you found? Does it taste the same as the real thing?

Regarding the "white powder" on dried persimmons, I thought it is icing sugar which is deliberately added to make the fruit taste sweeter? You mean it is actually crystalised sugar from the fruit itself?

Sometimes, dried persimmon slices can be found in your cheng tng dessert.

Ivy said...

victor, with all the poisonous flowers fresh in my mind, you think i dare to eat?
ya, it is one of the ingredients in cheng tng.

nah said...

The hokkien name for dried persimmons is quite offensive. It is “sai pia” which sounds like “crap cracker”.

yg said...

victor, ivy is yg. i am now in melbourne and i was not aware that i had logged in using my daughter's account.

yg said...

nah, when we were young, we used to recite a hokkien rhyme and i remember the words "ang chiam sai" and the crude word "lam par" in it. there was another word more crude than this but cannot mention here, leh.

Andy Wee said...

Speaking of persimmon, its been a long time since i ate them. When i was young, my grandpa always bought tons of them home,(the soft ones) as they are easily available in the hawker center. Wondering why he likes them, my sis told me that my grandpa has already drop all his teeth, therefore he can only eat fruits that are soft. haha.

yg said...

hi andy wee, older people, especially those who came from china, seem to like eating the soft persimmons. my late mother-in-law used to buy them every time they were in season.

Victor said...

i was not aware that i had logged in using my daughter's account.

Wah, you mean your daughter can also log into your account? I guess this also works based on a trust system too?

doris said...

the small ang sai growing on our local trees are too small to be edible. my neighbour strings them up to dry by tying them one by one to form a "necklace" and uses them for floral decor.

yg said...

doris, your neighbour has this persimmon-like fruit tree?