Truth Time: Does Anyone Still Think Fruit Baskets are a Good Holiday Gift? [From Persimmons to Pumelos: The most disgusting of the festive fruits!]

by Charlotte on December 10, 2012 · 42 comments

 

“Eating a persimmon and thinking of you!” I happily texted one of my oldest friends.

“Unnnhhhhh sucks to be you,” was her immediate response.

“Wha..? I love thinking of you!”

“Not that. Sucks you’re eating a persimmon. Those things are slimy nasty slime.”

“Confused. I thought you told me you love persimmons.”

“FALSE. I told you once in college that the house I grew up in had a persimmon tree in the yard. You assumed.”

“You don’t like persimmons?” Mind blown.

“Hated them then. Won’t eat them now. Stop linking me to the most vile fruit ever.”

“Harsh, much?” I was just trying to be nice after all!

“I tell you every year I hate them yet every Christmas you send me this same text.”

“Oops.”

“It’s okay. Just stop trying to make me into a persimmon licker already.”

“Buwhaha! Who wouldn’t want to be a persimmon licker??”

“*LIKER”

“Too late. I went there.”

“Of course you did.”

“I’m still thinking of you. But now in an entirely different light. 50 Shades of Fruit?”

“STOP IT.”

“Don’t feel bad, you can’t help it – you just grew up that way.”

Sometimes you find the D*mnYouAutocorrect and sometimes it finds you. Good times.

Seriously though, who hates persimmons? Sure they can be a little too smushy on the inside and weirdly crispy on the outside if you don’t time them just right. But they’re so bright and festive! And they’re known to be powerful brain protectors! (Although in my case, clearly not powerful enough…) Besides, they’re not the vilest fruit of the holiday season. According to this impassioned essay by Katy Waldman for Slate, that top honor goes to the grapefruit. As she puts it, “Grapefruit is unwieldy, disgusting, and in some cases dangerous to eat. It is indisputably the worst fruit anyone has ever put on a plate.”

While I have to disagree with her on premise – I adore the tart fruit and eat about one a day (I just peel it and eat it like an orange, no fancy spoon required!) – I do get where she’s coming from when it comes to gifting the yellow globes. I’ve seen a $200 Harry & David deluxe fruit array in person and all I could think was how I could find fresher produce at the grocery store and then wonder where on earth they were growing these grapefruits to warrant such a steep price tag – King Midas’ citrus grove? That is some expensive fiber-packed poop. And let’s be honest, I don’t know many people that consider any kind of fruit that isn’t chocolate-dipped or shaped into a funny floral arrangement to be gift-worthy.

Except maybe me. You could shove a box of clementines in my stocking and I’d be just as thrilled as if it were jewelry. (Dear husband: Not really.) In addition to loving the maligned persimmon and grapefruit, I also happen to adore fruitcake. I don’t get all the furor surrounding it – it’s basically cake stuffed with artificially colored candy, and who doesn’t love that? It’s like Funfetti for grown-ups. It’s not health food but it’s certainly tastier than, say, those tasteless tins of shortbread cookies everyone passes around. (I have never met a crunchy cookie I liked. Stupid sugar cookies look delish all dolled up and then taste like chalk when you bite into them.) And don’t even get me started on the delight that are fresh figs! (Figgy pudding, however, is not quite as good as the song or the Newton would have you believe.)

The one winter fruit I do really question though is the pomelo. First, what is that thing? I bought a whole bag at Costco recently (first mistake: buying 10 pounds of a fruit you’ve never tasted) and was expecting something like a giant green grapefruit but instead got a giant green football filled with sour pith and a few slivers of something vaguely citrus-y but with no flavor. Then I wondered if maybe it’s not meant to be eaten like a fruit. After all, according to the great Wiki almanac, pomelos take eight years to mature (growing 8 inches of spongy pith is hard work, people!) so clearly they’re in the remedial class for food, right next to the nettles. So maybe you have to pickle it? Or coat it in sugar, dip it in chocolate and fashion it into orchids on skewers?

But maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to judge. Summer fruits, with their succulent strawberries and perfect peaches, get all the attention. Winter fruits, on the other hand, generally lead most people to ask “Wait, you can grow fruit in winter?” I should probably give the pumelo points for just existing.

What about you – pomegranates, persimmons, pumelos, papayas, figs, oranges, grapefruits – do any of these make your holiday wish list or traditions? Are you one of those people who gifts fruit? (Or sticks an orange in the toe of every stocking?) Anyone else have a friend or relative who insistently mis-remembers your food likes/dislikes every year??

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen December 11, 2012 at 2:01 am

I’m in with all those fruits except I have never tried a persimmon. Pommegranates remind me of my Grandmother who had a tree out front her house – and while I find them to be hard work they are definetly worth the effort.

I’ve always liked papayas, a friend put me on to squeezing lime juice over them which just makes them even better in my opinion. My mother-in-law introduced me to pumelos, and I didn’t mind them, they were like a milder version of grapefruit in my opinion. Are you sure yours were ripe ? The ones we had, had turned from green to yellow and had a very soft pink coloured flesh.

Fruit as a Christmas present …. I would, but only to a close friend who I knew would appreciate the gesture and enjoy the fruit !

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Charlotte December 11, 2012 at 8:09 am

Ooh you should try one! Like some of th eother commenters pointed out, you have to find a fuyu! But they’re are delish:) As for the pumelo, it definitely was very green so maybe it wasn’t ripe! I’ll have to try it again when I can buy just one…

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Andrea Talarico December 11, 2012 at 2:52 am

Love pomegranates even more than if their seeds were actual rubies. Really. I *heart* pomegranates. I heart them hard.

Pomelo? Bleeeeeerrrgh. That’s one mistake I’m never repeating again. So deceptive (it looks like a cross between a cantaloupe and a grapefruit) and so… blergh. As for persimmons, that’s a family thing. My parents and grand-parents love them. I think they taste like fruit slime.

So there you have it: one post focusing on the only two fruits I hate. Well done.

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Charlotte December 11, 2012 at 8:11 am

I too heart the pomegranates hard! Only downside is I’ve got my kids hooked on them too which is an expensive little habit. Although better than buying them sugar bombs cereal or something though, right? And you’re welcome – it’s like I’m a fruit psychic;)

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:13 am

They are seriously the best on oatmeal! We have discovered that cutting them and stripping the seeds underwater is the key…no “bleeding” everywhere that way.

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Sue December 11, 2012 at 3:04 am

I don’t really care for persimmons or pomegranates, but I’ve been eating lots of clementines lately. Those little guys are so juicy and sweet! Perfect snack food.
The pomelos around here are imported from China, huge, dry, disgusting. I’d rather have a grapefruit instead.
Fruit are not really good gifts, I guess. But personally I’d be thrilled to get a Korean pear. Best fruit ever!

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Charlotte December 11, 2012 at 2:06 pm

Clementines are like candy, right? And I’ve never heard of a Korean pear but now I want to try one! Are they like Asian pears?

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Sue December 11, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Yes, they are! But they are also huge, about the size of a baby’s head, very sweet and juicy.

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Sigi December 11, 2012 at 3:28 am

You must have scored some bad pomelos there, Charlotte – when well grown and picked ripe they are a very nommy fruit, and if you like grapefruit you really should enjoy pomelos too.

Persimmons = yum, but again only if eaten at the right time. Personally I don’t much care for the astringent variety (i.e. must eat when jelly-soft, and for God’s sake never try them underripe – ewww!). But the crunchy, non-astringent (fuyu) sort are delish when at their best.

I’d love to get a fruit basket at any time! It’s not the sort of thing we do in Australia (I’ve never heard of anyone receiving one, ever). But then again, we’re spoiled with a wide variety of fruit year-round here, so I guess it’s not as “special” for us.

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Charlotte December 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Really? No fruit baskets in Australia?! I’m jealous of your bountiful produce! And I didn’t realize there were different varieties of persimmons (which: duh) so that may be why I love them (I get Fuyu) and my friend hates them (maybe hers was the other kind?).

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S December 11, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I agree, Pumelos should be very similar to grapefruit, although they do definitely have more pith. I’ve found them tasty, but usually not worth the extra effort compared to grapefruits, which are already a more labor intensive fruit. The citrus part of the grapefruit tends to be nearly circular, while the pumelos I’ve had have had tend to be more circular paint splatter, and with the large pith they yield not much more actual fruit than a grapefruit, but cutting the paint splatter isn’t as simple as cutting the circle, if that makes sense.

and I heart fuyu persimmons! Especially when they’ve gotten a bit soft (like a pear I’d guess), and peeling off the skin. The Hachiya persimmons are I think really only good for baking since eating jelly textured fruit is a bit creepy to me… There’s also another kind, which is I think what’s often grown in the south, which is not Hachiya but much more similar to that than to the Fuyu I think?

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Cort the Sport December 11, 2012 at 4:28 am

EVERY year, my beloved mother-in-law gives us each an apple and orange in the German tradition. The problem is, they are usually the most giant, unflavorful, industrial varieties ever and no one wants to eat them.

I’ve also had a bad pomelo experience, but that was my own doing.

I DO however get excited about clementines!! VERY!!!! But no, I would not be excited about a fruit basket.

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Charlotte December 11, 2012 at 3:45 pm

Ew. There is nothing worse than a giant industrial Red Delicious apple. Delicious it is definitely not. And yay to clementines! They’re seriously like candy, right??

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Naomi/Dragonmamma December 11, 2012 at 6:24 am

First of all, there are two kinds of persimmons: fuyu and hachiya. The hachiya are the kind you need to wait for them to get all mushy and then cook into breads like you would use bananas.

The fuyu are what I go ga-ga over. They’re sweet and crunchy like an apple. You just eat the whole darn thing as-is, or you slice them up and pop them in the dehydrator for 16 hours for delicious natural candy.

I’m all excited because today at the Y one of the members is going to bring me a gigantic sack of fuyu persimmons from her backyard trees!

Also, some neighbors just gave us a dried fruit assortment, which I absolutely adore. Yes, yes, yes, if you all sent me your unwanted fruit baskets I’d be ecstatic!

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Charlotte December 11, 2012 at 3:48 pm

You, as always, are a fountain of knowledge Naomi!! I had no idea there were different varieties (which: duh). Like I said above, maybe that explains the difference in lovin’ between my friend and I – I always get Fuyu! I’ll have to try them dried – that sounds amazing!

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Redhead December 11, 2012 at 6:42 am

I’ve never had persimmons or pumelos. But grapefruits are the bomb diggity!! Fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice mixed with fresh-squeezed orange juice is AMAZING.
As far as a fruit basket, it would depend on what’s in it (and frankly those edible arrangements are cuter) but, as a vegan, I wouldn’t necessarily mind (especially if it was instead of the cookies and baked goods people always seem to exchange-at least I can eat fruit!)

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Cbuffy December 11, 2012 at 7:17 am

I LOVE pomegranates. I buy them. Then when I get home I decide they are too much work “right now” and I’ll eat it later. And then when it’s a dried up husk I throw it out. Nearly bought one last night. They are SO good, but I end up getting the juice all over me and it really stains! I used to give Florida Grapefruit to my Dad for Christmas. But then they moved to Arizona in the winters and they have their own… (He LOVES grapefruit – Mom got up and sliced ‘em up for the whole family every morning in the winter in Calgary! BEFORE early morning seminary! Now THAT is love!)

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Abby December 11, 2012 at 7:54 am

Wow, I had no idea persimmons were so polarizing. I think they’re delicious! Of course I did bring one into work and all my coworkers here in the South had no idea what it was so maybe it’s a regional thing. In California I think I ate them more than apples growing up. On your list I love all of those things, except I’ve never had a pomelo. But I haven’t found a fruit I dislike yet so maybe I’d like it. As for a fruit basket as a present? If it was quality fresh stuff I’d be thrilled. That stuff is expensive down here!

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Melissa December 11, 2012 at 8:08 am

I love most winter fruit, though I’ve never had a persimmon. I adore pomegranate seeds and all citrus!

When my Grandpa was alive, he lived in Chico and there was a little farm nearby that sold “mecans” they are similar to satsuma oranges and seriously the best fruit ever! And each year, even after we moved out of my parents’, Grandpa would send us (my sisters and I) a box of them from the farm. It was the best present ever, we looked forward to that delivery so much.

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Geosomin December 11, 2012 at 8:35 am

Love persimmons (properly ripe)…and grapefruits…ok all fruits really. I usually have at least one apple and banana a day. They’re kinda my version of candy, since I really don’t have a sweet tooth. It’s why I’m not a fan of fruitcake. Too sweet (although grandma’s christmas bread pudding with caramel sauce is divine). The only fruit I dont’ like are those wierd alien looking fruits that are red inside and taste like soap. Winter fruits like pomegranates, and papayas rock. I actually made myself allergic to oranges by eating too many in university…heh. Oops.
Fruit in the winter is a must for my sanity. I feel all exotic having a weird fruit in the middle of -30 blizzardy weather.

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Sylvie @ StruggleswithaFatA December 11, 2012 at 8:46 am

My family used to buy a box of Honeybells, a super yummy juicy vibrant colored bell shaped orange that is in peak season for a very short time during the winter (and you have to special order them from the Honeybell people. I think Honeybells are actually tangelos but Honeybells are a billion times better). My mom once sent me a box for Christmas but they came all moldy. :( I’ve never had a pumelo or a persimmon, I’ve steered away from the pumelos because I also thought they were a giant green grapefruit. I don’t like grapefruit. When my husband and I were in Hawaii, I also discovered I really don’t like passion fruit. I really thought I would because I like anything passion fruit flavored! Apparently added sugar works wonders for some fruits. :)

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Cat@thingsmybellylikes December 11, 2012 at 9:13 am

I read that anti-grapefruit propaganda at Slate and it enraged me – grapefruits are awesome! Never tried persimmon but it takes a lot to make me hate any type of fruit (except pomegranate, got some severe pomegranate PTSD going on for reasons I’d rather not get into).

At the risk of being that annoying self-promoting blogger, I did actually make a decent fruity Christmas cake (which is odd because I’m a Christmas cake hater) and it’s healthy! – gluten and sugar free! http://thingsmybellylikes.com/2012/12/10/christmas-bundt-cake/

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Happier Heather December 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm

I absolutely LOVE those crunchy shortbread cookies in the blue tin! In fact, my sister and I were discussing this morning how she loathes them and I love them. I’m planning to buy a tin tonight and enjoy every cookie in there!

I’ve never tried persimmons, dislike grapefruit and haven’t tried the others.

But, every winter I get excited when the oranges are in season and taste delightful. Guess I need to get them at the store tonight, too!

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Sagan December 11, 2012 at 6:26 pm

I really need to expand my fruit repertoire. I haven’t tried so many of these!

I love grapefruit and for a few months ate one or two a day, every day for breakfast. Then I forgot to get them at the store one day and they haven’t been on my grocery list since. Hmmm. Methinks I need to start doing that again.

My little twin cousins (4 years old now) LOVE raspberries. I swear, if you give them a little carton of raspberries for a present, they’re more excited about that than they are about toys. It’s awesome.

(But much as I adore fruit, I feel as though for around the holidays I MAY prefer some tasty good quality chocolate ;)).

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LaCie Jensen December 11, 2012 at 6:52 pm

My neighbor told me his wife’s favorite cookie was gingerbread the first time we met them and I showed up at the door with a plate. Since then I have given them to her for every holiday! On her last birthday she finally told me he was just being nice and she actually hates them :(

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delia December 11, 2012 at 7:35 pm

It’s a hassle to eat pomegranates, and I rarely eat figs. The other fruit, though I do like. I would love to get a fruit basket as a gift. At least from my experience, the fruit in those gift baskets or gift boxes is tastier than the ones you get at the market.

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Alyssa (azusmom) December 11, 2012 at 9:52 pm

My in-laws grow persimmons, and they are delicious!
However, I am not a fan of the fruity gift basket. It just screams I-don’t-know-what-you-like-and-really-can’t-be-bothered-to-find-out to me. Which is actually fine: if you don’t know me, don’t feel obligated to buy me anything. Heck, even if you DO know me! I’d rather the money went to a charity you support, or toward your groceries, or your kids’ college fund.
I must admit to disliking grapefruit. I’m sorry, I have tried. For years and years I have tried. In many ways, in many incarnations (pink, orange, yellow, plain, with sugar, in juice form, and on and on) and I just don’t like them. But I LOVE the smell! Is that weird?
I love figs. But forget the figgy pudding, give me sticky toffee pudding! Yummy-nummy!

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Charlotte December 12, 2012 at 11:32 pm

Toffee anything is the best!! Doesn’t get better than carmelized butter and sugar! And I don’t think it’s weird you like the smell but hate the taste of grapefruit – it’s a very clean smell, I think!

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Julie December 11, 2012 at 11:31 pm

I guess you should be in California to get a Pumelo. They SHOULD be sweeter than a grapefruit, which makes them worth the trouble. I cut out all the pith, but I think its easier because it is so thick. I’ve only bought them at a farmers market, so that must help to make sure they are ripe.
In Placer County you can get the magical Satsuma Mandarin, which I can finish a 10 pound bag in three days, I eat them 5 at a time, and swear they are equivalent to soda, with the sweet/acid balance. They are gone after Christmas, so we eat them up.
I never cared for the persimon, but the trees look beautiful this time of year, with just the fruit hanging, the leaves are gone.

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Charlotte December 12, 2012 at 11:12 pm

Alas I have never seen a persimmon tree in the flesh! Someday! And I will def. give the pumelo another shot. Just not at Costco… That’s one of the downsides to the Midwest – except for apples you basically have to import all produce from halfway across the country…

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Bek @ Crave December 12, 2012 at 12:46 am

Half the fruits you mentioned, I have no idea what they are. Since us Aussies are heading into Summer though I’m loving on the strawberries, grapes and watermelon. Oh and bananas- but I always LOVE bananas. Every single day.

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Charlotte December 12, 2012 at 11:01 pm

See and I don’t love bananas. I don’t hate them and enjoy them in a good smoothie but I rarely eat them raw. It’s a smooshy texture thing;)

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Katie December 12, 2012 at 7:09 am

It angers me to see grown people say “Wah, I hate _____ fruits or vegetables.” I just want to tell them to grow the hell up :D

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Kellyim December 12, 2012 at 2:20 pm

When I spend Christmas with my husband’s family, we all get an orange in our stockings. I’m a big fan of all the little cute clementines that show up in the grocery store this time of year too.

When I was growing up in Arizona, my grandparents had a pomegranate tree, so I don’t associate it solely with winter. Pomegranates fresh off the tree are fantastic and I dyed my little fingers red every chance I got.

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Charlotte December 12, 2012 at 4:32 pm

Ah I’ve never had a fresh pomegranate off a tree! The store-bought ones taste so amazing I’d probably flip over the real deal!

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Tami December 14, 2012 at 8:39 pm

Hey, I’d be proud to be called a persimmon licker. That fruit is the ONLY reason I look forward to winter. OK, not the only reason. Spiders also go away in winter. So persimmons + no spiders = happy persimmon licker Tami.

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Charlotte December 14, 2012 at 9:27 pm

This: ” So persimmons + no spiders = happy persimmon licker Tami.” might be the awesomest comment anyone has ever left me.

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christine December 15, 2012 at 10:50 pm

I have grapefruit tangerines and navel orange trees in my yard – it used to be an orange grove, so I had tons of citrus and I love it! Just discovered dragonfruit at the produce market too, it’s so pretty and delicious! I have never tried a persimmon, I will have to do that.

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Jessie December 21, 2012 at 11:18 am

Pummelo are my favorite! Maybe you got a bad one?! In fact I was just about to to go peel mine :-) I watched a youtube video about how to peel them the first time I bought one. Made my life a bit easier lol
I have never tried persimmons…maybe I will have to after reading this post and the comments. I’m always up for trying new fruit.
One of my classmates was telling me she massages her pomegranates and lightly squeezes it for like a half hour or so while watching TV and then pops a straw in it and drinks the juice. I may try it one of these days :-)

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Brendan May 17, 2013 at 1:09 am

I agree – fruit baskets can be quite tiresome if not re invented with some contemporary ideas.

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