Persimmon

Food Type:
Age Suggestion: 6 months +
Nutrition Rating:How nutritious a food is with a focus on the specific nutrients babies need for optimal growth. The more nutritious a food, the more stars it will have.
Prep Time:How much time a food takes to prepare safely for a baby. The more time-consuming a food is to prepare safely, the more clocks it will have.
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Common Allergen: No
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3 Fuyu persimmons on a white table before being prepared for babies starting solids

When can babies eat persimmon?

Persimmon may be introduced as soon as baby is ready to start solids, which is generally around 6 months of age. Take care when introducing persimmons as the fresh fruit can be slippery, contain seeds, and be quite firm (qualities that increase the risk of choking). Note: Unripe persimmon can cause a dry, numbing sensation in the mouth that is harmless but surprising to those who are experiencing the fruit for the first time.1

Where do persimmons come from?

Persimmons are the large berries that grow on deciduous trees in the world’s temperate and subtropical regions. There are different varieties – some round, others shaped like a heart – and each ranges in color from deep red to fiery orange to sunny yellow. Two of the most widely grown varieties, Fuyu and Hachiya persimmons, originated in Asia, where they are known as gam, kaki, khormaloo, japani phal, and shi, among other names. The fruit’s name in English has roots in the Cree language of North America, where the native variety of persimmon has long been prized as a source of food, medicine, and wood.

Persimmons are often picked early for sale and need time to ripen at room temperature to reduce the fruit’s bitter tannins. Ripe persimmons are very sweet while unripe persimmons are so astringent that one bite may suck all moisture from the mouth and cause a numbing sensation.2 To tell if the fruit is ripe, feel it: the texture softens as the fruit ripens. Young persimmons are hard to the touch, like an apple, while ripe persimmons feel juicy – sometimes as gooey as jelly.

Amelia, 9 months, eats a soft halved soft persimmon.
Callie, 12 months, eats small pieces of soft persimmon.
Julian, 13 months, eats an overripe Fuyu persimmon.

Are persimmons healthy for babies?

Yes. Persimmons are packed with fiber to power the digestive system, vitamin E for healthy eyes and skin, vitamin C to boost iron absorption, and vitamin B6 to support baby’s hormones, nervous system, and cell growth. They also offer plant compounds called carotenoids that not only give the fruit its color, but act as antioxidants in the body.3 Some of the carotenoids in persimmons convert to vitamin A to support baby’s growth and immune system, while others promote healthy vision and cells.

Dried persimmon (gotgam, hong kho, hoshigaki, shibing) are nutritious, too, but it would be wise to wait until a child is older (ideally after the first birthday) to serve dried persimmons because dried fruit is a common choking hazard.

Some persimmon varieties remain a bit firm when they are ready to eat, like the round Fuyu, Jiro, Rojo Brillante, and Triumph (Sharon fruit), which feel like a ripe pear when they are ready to eat. Other varieties, like the heart-shaped Hachiya persimmon, are so astringent when unripe that the taste benefits from extra ripening time at room temperature. These are ready to eat when they are so soft that they feel mushy, like an overripe banana.

★ Tip: Have a persimmon with black marks or brown flecks on the skin? Fear not: this is common for persimmons and discoloration is not usually a sign of spoilage.

Do persimmons cause digestive issues?

No. However, individuals with pre-existing digestive problems may experience constipation or, even more rarely, a bezoar (an indigestible mass that creates a blockage in the digestive tract) when eating large quantities of fiber-rich foods such as persimmons frequently.4 5 6 In general, bezoars are extremely rare and are uncommon in children.7 8 9 Rest assured that persimmons are an excellent food to serve to babies and toddlers as long as the fruit is prepared in an age-appropriate way and offered in moderation as a part of a balanced diet.

Are persimmons a common choking hazard for babies?

They can be. The sweet flesh of persimmons can be firm, and slippery – two qualities that increase the risk of choking. Also, some varieties that can be enjoyed while firm (with texture like a ripe pear) can present a choking risk for babies and toddlers who are still learning how to chew, spit, and swallow. To reduce the risk, check that the persimmons are ripe (they should give slightly when pressed), prepare the fruit in an age-appropriate way, and hold off on dried persimmon until closer to age two. As always, make sure to create a safe eating environment and stay within an arm’s reach of baby during at mealtime.

For more information on choking, visit our section on gagging and choking and familiarize yourself with the list of common choking hazards.

Are persimmons a common allergen?

No. Persimmon allergies are rare, though they have been reported.10 Individuals with allergies to birch pollen, sensitivity to latex, or Oral Allergy Syndrome (also called pollen food allergy syndrome) may be sensitive to persimmon.11 12 Oral Allergy Syndrome typically results in short-lived itching, tingling, or burning in the mouth and is unlikely to result in a dangerous reaction. Peeling and cooking the fruit can help minimize or even eliminate the oral allergy reaction.13 14

As you would when introducing any new food, start by offering a small amount on its own for the first few servings. If there is no adverse reaction, gradually increase the amount served over future meals.

How do you prepare persimmons for babies with baby-led weaning?

6 to 12 months old: If the persimmon is heart-shaped (Hachiya persimmon), wait until the fruit is very ripe and mushy to the touch, a sign that its astringent flavor has mellowed. From there, pull the stem off, turn the persimmon down and halve it with a knife. Discard any seeds, and scoop out the gooey flesh, which can be stirred into yogurt and porridges, served on its own for baby to scoop with hands, and seasoned with butter, spices, and other flavor enhancers. For firmer varieties, such as Fuyu, let the fruit over ripen until it’s very soft. Slice in half. If there are seeds, remove them. Alternatively you can cook persimmon halves until soft and easily pierceable with a fork, then serve as a finger food or mash the fruit to make a sauce that can be stirred into soft, scoopable foods.

12 to 18 months old: If working with Hachiya persimmon (heart-shaped), wait until the fruit is ripe and custardy. From there, halve the persimmon, discard any seeds, and scoop out the gooey flesh, which can be stirred into yogurt and served atop other foods. If you have a firm variety of persimmon such as Fuyu, ripen the fruit at room temperature until it feels tender like a ripe pear, peel the skin if desired, halve, and deseed the fruit. From there you can offer bite size pieces, quarters, halves, or even whole, with or without the skin. Babies often chew on the skin and spit it out, and while this seems like waste, building familiarity with skin can help encourage a child to eat fruit with the skin later in life. Plus, the act of chewing and spitting the skin helps develop oral-motor and grinding skills. When offering bigger pieces, if a piece of fruit is bitten off a whole piece, remember, your baby will most likely begin to chew and break down the piece of fruit, decreasing choking risk.

18 to 24 months old: If you have the soft, heart-shaped, custardy variety of persimmon (Hachiya) wait until it’s fully ripe and then try serving persimmon “boats”. Simply cut the top of the fruit off and serve the whole persimmon with a spoon for your toddler to scoop the inner flesh out independently. If you have a firm variety such as Fuyu, this is a great time to serve quarter pieces or whole persimmon, like an apple. If your child is struggling with the skin, simply peel the persimmon, or peel it in “stripes” so that some skin is left on for exposure.

★ If you are stuck in a puffs and pouches rut, check out our snack guide for 100 healthy and easy ideas for babies and toddlers.

Recipe: Persimmon with Ground Walnut and Cinnamon

Yield: 1 cup (150 grams)
Cooking Time: 5 minutes
Age: 6 months+

Ingredients

  • 1 ripe Fuyu persimmon (or any firm variety)
  • ½ teaspoon (1 gram) ground walnut or ground nut of choice
  • 1 pinch ground cinnamon

This recipe contains a common allergen: tree nut (walnut). Only serve to a child after this allergen has been safely introduced.

Directions

  1. Wash and dry the fruit. Pull the stem off.
  2. Halve the persimmon crosswise across the equator. Remove and discard any seeds.
  3. Bring 1 cup (240 milliliters) of water in a pot to a lively simmer.
  4. Add the persimmon halves to the pot. Cover and cook until a fork easily pierces the fruit, between 2 and 5 minutes depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Drain.
  5. Let the persimmon halves cool to room temperature. If the skin starts to peel, feel free to remove it. Otherwise, leave the skin on or remove it as desired.
  6. Sprinkle the cooked persimmon with ground walnut and cinnamon. For an added layer of flavor, season persimmon with your favorite spices – black pepper, cardamom, cinnamon, or ginger taste great – and fresh herbs like chives, mint, or parsley.
  7. Serve the persimmon halves as finger food and let the child self-feed by scooping with hands. Alternatively, pass the fruit in the air for the child to grab from you.

To Store: Cooked persimmon keeps when sealed in the fridge for 3 days.

Flavor Pairings

Try pairing persimmons with avocado, goat cheese, yogurt, almond, walnut, or beet.

Reviewed by

J. Truppi, MSN, CNS

V. Kalami, MNSP, RD, CSP

K. Rappaport, OTR/L, MS, SCFES, IBCLC

K. Grenawitzke, OTD, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, CNT

S. Bajowala, MD, FAAAAI. Board-Certified Allergist & Immunologist (allergy section)

R. Ruiz, MD, FAAP. Board-Certified General Pediatrician & Pediatric Gastroenterologist

  1. Jiang, Y., Gong, N.N., Matsunami, H. (2014). Astringency: a more stringent definition. Chemical senses, 39(6), 467–469. DOI:10.1093/chemse/bju021. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  2. Jiang, Y., Gong, N.N., Matsunami, H. (2014). Astringency: a more stringent definition. Chemical senses, 39(6), 467–469. DOI:10.1093/chemse/bju021. Retrieved August 4, 2021.
  3. Butt, M.S., Sultan, M.T., Aziz, M., Naz, A., Ahmed, W., (2015). Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) fruit: hidden phytochemicals and health claims. EXCLI journal, 14, 542–561. DOI:10.17179/excli2015-159. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  4. Eng, K., Kay, M. (2012). Gastrointestinal bezoars: history and current treatment paradigms. Gastroenterology & hepatology, 8(11), 776–778. Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  5. Soon-Ok Choi, Joong-Shin Kang. (1988). Gastrointestinal phytobezoars in childhood, Journal of Pediatric Surgery, 23(4), 338-341. DOI:10.1016/S0022-3468(88)80202-1. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  6. Teng, T., Tan, Y. P., Shelat, V. G. (2019). Persimmon fruit causing simultaneous small bowel and stomach obstruction. Singapore medical journal, 60(10), 550. DOI:10.11622/smedj.2019132 . Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  7. Zafar, A., Ahmad, S., Ghafoor, A., Turabi, M. R. (2003). Small bowel obstruction in children due to persimmon phytobezoars. Journal of the College of Physicians and Surgeons–Pakistan : JCPSP, 13(8), 443–445. PMID: 12921680. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  8. Zhang, R.L., Yang, Z.L., Fan, B. G. (2008). Huge gastric disopyrobezoar: a case report and review of literatures. World journal of gastroenterology, 14(1), 152–154. DOI:10.3748/wjg.14.152. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  9. Yamamoto M, Yamamoto K, Bian X, et al. Small bowel obstruction caused by dried persimmon. Case Rep Gastroenterol 2018;12:147–52.
  10. Anliker, M.D., Reindl, J., Vieths, S., Wüthrich, B. (2001). Allergy caused by ingestion of persimmon (Diospyros kaki): detection of specific IgE and cross-reactivity to profilin and carbohydrate determinants. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 107(4), 718–723. DOI:10.1067/mai.2001.113568. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  11. Kim, J.H., Kim, S.H., Park, H.W., Cho, S.H., Chang, Y. S. (2018). Oral Allergy Syndrome in Birch Pollen-Sensitized Patients from a Korean University Hospital. Journal of Korean medical science, 33(33), e218. DOI:10.3346/jkms.2018.33.e218. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  12. Pradubpongsa, P, Kanechorn-Na-Ayuthaya, P. (2015). Latex-Fruit Anaphylaxis from Persimmon. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology Research. DOI:10.4172/2155-9554.1000340. Retrieved July 29, 2021.
  13. Nowak-Regrzyn, A. (2021). Patient Education: Oral Allergy Syndrome (Beyond the Basics). Up to Date. Retrieved June 14, 2021.
  14. Mankad, V. (2015). If Allergic to One Food, Do You Have to Avoid Related Foods? Kids with Food Allergies: A Division of the Asthma and Allery Foundation of America. Retrieved July 29, 2021.