By Lauren Haas
The New York Times recently asked Google to find out how each state celebrates Thanksgiving – or rather, what food we like to overfill our bellies with. Google found the most popular, distinct recipes searched during the Thanksgiving season, and the one that stood out for California may surprise you: persimmon bread.
Persimmons are a yellow-orange or red-orange fruit originating from China that has a very sweet, delicate flavor when intended for eating fresh and raw. However, baking persimmons, which produce deliciously sweet pastries and breads, has the power to suck all of the moisture out of your mouth with one bite.
And why is this? If you’re not from California, you might not have even heard of a persimmon before, so why are they so popular? Well, it has to do with California’s obsession with eating locally and seasonally grown produce. This is evident recently from the explosion of farmers’ markets and farm-to-table restaurants. Fruits and vegetables naturally taste better when they are perfectly ripe. It is ultimately a cheaper option and is better for small farmers and the local community to purchase locally grown food. Most domestic commercial harvesting of persimmons is centered in California, mainly in Fresno, Tulare, and San Diego counties.
For the same reasons, sweet potatoes and yams came in a close second for this fall season. This is the time of their biggest harvests and they are primarily grown in Sacramento Valley, particularly Merced County. Because these crops originate from tropical regions, they can only thrive in the warmest parts of California. They are usually baked, roasted, or mashed, to go together perfectly with your turkey and stuffing on Thanksgiving!
If you are not yet among the brave souls who have branched out to the world of persimmons, this week is your chance. Californians are lucky to have over 400 commodities grown right in our backyard. It’s only natural that we want to have the freshest, in-season foods on our Thanksgiving table. That’s something to be thankful for!