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Turning Persimmons into Hot Sauce

P.O.P. Sauce Combines Seasonal Fruits with Spicy Peppers

Persimmons are perplexing.

For starters, at least around Santa Barbara, there are two common types of the bright-orange fruit. While they look pretty similar and even offer the same generically sweet flavor — which many otherwise omnivorous eaters object to — they’re totally different.

The fuyu is considered a non-astringent persimmon, which means its crisp flesh can be eaten right off the tree, like an apple. It’s also good for cheese plates when sliced and gives a crunchy kick to salads when diced. Overall, rather innocuous and inoffensive.

Then there’s the more troubling hachiya variety, which is too tannic for immediate eating. Instead, it must sit on your counter until its flesh reaches a gooey consistency — just before going rotten, which freaks some people out — at which point it’s squeezed out of its peel. The gelatinous slime is usually baked into cookies.

I’m not a baker, however, so when hachiyas started showing up in my kitchen last month, I decided to turn their guts into something much more savory than spongy baked goods: hot sauce, which winds up on everything from quesadillas to pizza at my house. Three batches later, people in my neighborhood are wondering whether I will take it commercial.

Instead, I’m going open-source and sharing my loose recipe for P.O.P. Sauce (persimmon-orange-pepper, though “Pop Sauce” is already trademarked by someone else). It’s super-easy, and ingredient amounts are really about personal taste: Throw ripe hachiya flesh in a bowl and add about the same amount of fresh-squeezed orange juice, along with lime juice, a dash or two of apple cider vinegar, a clove or two of garlic, and a few pinches of salt. Purée with your favorite device — think ketchup consistency — and then start tossing in the hottest chili peppers you can find (stems and, perhaps, seeds removed). When it’s hot enough, pour into salad dressing bottles or jars or right onto your food.

With that, maybe all those orange nuggets I see hanging off trees from Ellwood to Carpinteria won’t go to waste this year.

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