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american persimmon...a drought resistant and delicious fruit and source of beautiful carving wood

 
Judith Browning
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Our earliest "grove" of american persimmon is ripening...a little early this year because of the drought but so delicious. We clear under the trees so we can see the new ones as they drop (that along with an easily removed calyx is a reliable indicater of ripeness for us). I knock the trees a couple times to get a few more. We eat them every day and freeze some whole. When there are too many fo keep up with I'll start drying them by flattening them slightly (we leave the seeds in) and dehydrating, then we just pull the dryed fruit off of the seeds to eat. We have five different patches of four or five trees each that between them all, bear from now until november. Each area varies in size and flavor but all super sweet and not astringent at all. I think a lot of folks had their first taste of persimmon ruined by picking one right off of the tree. Some think that they need a frost to ripen but that has not been our experience.
There are both male and female trees. The males bloom a little earlier and our honey bees just fill the trees. I am letting a lot of young trees stay where they sprout ,which is almost any cleared area and noticably where we spit seeds as we walk back to the house eatting them. I am realizing this is one of our most reliable fruits. There is virtually no maintenance even for the young sprouts...just locating the trees, clearing enough under them to see the fallen fruit and trimming up branches after an ice storm. The deer don't eat the leaves like they do my peaches and cherries. They seem to grow equally well on the edges of the woods as in full sun.

trees 005.jpg
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american persimmon bark
 
Kay Barry
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Thank you so much for mentioning persimmons! I am drawing up my list of things that should be considered for our food forest, and that makes a wonderful addition. I love your description, especially about the drought-tolerance qualities. How many years did it take until they bore fruit?

Kay

 
Judith Browning
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The persimmons we have are native to our area...Diospyros virginiana is the genus and species. I see it listed in "edible landscaping" and I am sure lots of other catalogs. You could try to find what is native to your area even if they are not already on your land. Ours are wild and some were bearing when we moved here so we don't know their age exactly but I think it must be at least 6 to 8 years before they produce a lot and then continue for many, many years .
....I am hoping others will have more information to add to this thread.
 
Jordan Lowery
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I have one old persimmon near by, the fruit once ripened is amazing, purely natures version of pre made jelly.I also find it doesn't need a hard frost but usually by the time the majority of them are done they have been through several frosts. We pick them when orange and firm for drying.
 
Judith Browning
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Ours when ripe are more the consistancy of dates maybe, or a jam not ajelly. I know they vary from tree to tree and we have one that holds it's fruit and will dry on the tree if we and the birds let it.

I wanted to include uses for the wood also. This is written by my husband a woodworker for decades.....

...."For the woodworker, wild American persimmon is a hard, heavy, tough, good looking material, suitable especially for wedges, mauls and froe-clubs, as well as treen (bowls and spoons,etc.) both turned and carved. The former market for golf club heads has apparently collapsed, even in Japan; buyers no longer come looking for persimmon. But it is still usefull on the homestead and in the craft market. Persimmon is in the ebony family, a fact underscored by a frequent blackstreak in the pith, and in knots, but I have never seen enough to use as black persimmon. Hard as the wood gets when seasoned, however, it is attacked by worms (wood boring beetle larvae) and bacteria as soon as it is felled, and beautiful material is quickly ruined if it is not immediately barked and split or sawn, or idealy completely worked up to the finished items for drying."

Once he and a friend cut a two foot in diameter persimmon from a business in town. My husband's share of the wood made a couple beautiful huge bowls, several smaller ones and dozens of spoons....all one of a kind and hand carved.
...as a weaver I should add that the wood makes excellent shuttles and other weaving tools.
 
John Polk
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The seeds used to be roasted, and then used as a coffee substitute.

As far as "needing a frost" is concerned, I believe that depends both on the individual tree, and the climate.

 
Judith Browning
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I had not heard of roasted seeds as a coffee substitute...We have used them for game pieces...here locally folks split them in half to predict the weather...if there is an image of a spoon, knife or fork there will be a snowy winter(spoon ); "cutting" cold (a knife); something to do with hay, we think (a fork). I'm sure where ever persimmons grow there is some version of this.
You are probably right about the "frost to ripen" differences....they vary so much just on different parts of our land.
 
Kelson Water
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love persimmons!
 
Kelson Water
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persimmon champagne is delicious. i left a covered crock of persimmon pulp and water for two weeks in the refridgerator. fermentation is a kind of "cooking" process, and the result for me was a drink that was clear and sparkling with a hint of orangy persimmon color. the tannins in the persimmons had changed during fermentation, binding the pulp, and clarifying the brew. i am fascinated and kind of obsessed with persimmons. i didn't know that deer don't eat their leaves. that is helpful information. persimmons might make a good living fence
 
Kelson Water
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meant to say persimmon trees for a living fence.


 
Judith Browning
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Kelson.....You got me to look up about tannins, I never thought of the astringency as that. Anyway then I learned a new word...bletting, you probably already know it. I love being able to say that the persimmons are bletting!!! which I understood to mean ripening and changing to sugars. Are you picking as they fall? or from the tree? Are they astringent when you pick them? Do you know the tree variety? I guess that some Asian persimmons require you to do the bletting after picking.
We only have native (wild) american persimmons.
Using them as part of a living fence is probably a good idea...some of ours are in an edge of a cleared place surrounded by muscadine, plum, black locust and briars.
I am in the habit of drying them or eatting them singly ..I used to do a pulp for wine or bread but occasionally one unripe one would cause the whole batch to be astringent.
 
Judith Browning
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Jordan Lowery wrote:I have one old persimmon near by, the fruit once ripened is amazing, purely natures version of pre made jelly.I also find it doesn't need a hard frost but usually by the time the majority of them are done they have been through several frosts. We pick them when orange and firm for drying.


I was wondering if your tree is an Asian persimmon from your description. Are they still astringent when you pick them and the drying process sweetens them? I just read about bletting as the ripening process that happens naturally in american persimmons but in some Asian ones you have to do it.
 
Kelson Water
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hi Ms Browing, thank you! bletting is a fun word and new to me. it seems to me that cooking with the diospyros virginiana persimmons, the smaller, wild persimmons changes the astringency, a "reverse" bletting. is that possible? something changes. i don't know, maybe that's what happened when i dried the persimmon fruit leather at 200 degress. the fruit leather was less sweet and less sticky than the pulp i started with. it was drier, of course, but almost crumbly, and seemed more astringent than the pulp i started out with. i don't think it was just one astringent persimmon to blame. i don't know, though. i noticed a similar thing happen when persimmon wine happened. the fermentation (heating up things like cooking) changed the consistency of the mash. all the solids were bound togeather with what seemed like stuff that had the same astringent quality present in an unripe persimmon, though i started with very sugary pulp. the liquid was sweet, though. maybe the easiest thing to do is just drying them as you described. i'm interested in the clarifying properties of astringent persimmons in wine but i don't know when i will actually use this information. maybe someone else could though


ps i might be mistaken about describing persimmons as containing tannins. i will look into it
 
Judith Browning
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You are exactly right about the tannins...I had not heard of the astringency called that but several places on line used the word tannins. I agree, something changes when they are pulped or cooked and the sweetness goes and some astringency comes back.

Now I am thinking it must be temperature that changes the sweetness...when we dry whole fresh flattened fruit in our electric dehydrator I set it at 115 degress. That was recommended in the book "Dry it, You'll like It" from the seventies. The author says that to keep the nutritional value of the food alive you shouldn't dry anything above that temperature. They do stay sweet and the seeds are easy to remove then.

One of the sites I looked at was persimmonpudding.com.
 
Tyler Ludens
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We also have native Persimmon Diospyros texana which are usually small trees or shrubs, with small rounded leaves, very different from the American Persimmon. The fruits are small and very dark purple/black and intensely sweet but not very flavorful. Texas Persimmon is significantly more drought tolerant than American Persimmon, in my experience. I think some parts of Texas have both kinds of tree. Recently someone on here told me the other Persimmons (American and Asian) can be grafted onto Texas Persimmon for more drought hardiness.
 
Judith Browning
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I wonder how grafting would limit the size of the american p. on something shruby? We may need something even more drought hardy here soon. Are black persimmon fruits used to dye anything? I thought I had heard that they were used to dye sheepskin in Mexico. Too many bits of information floating around my brain.
 
Tyler Ludens
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The fruits certainly stain the mouth black, so they may well be a dye though I don't know how colorfast it is.
 
Kelson Water
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texas persimmons... diospyros texan is a new tree for me. .. wonderful color in the fruits



http://www.jstor.org/stable/2478934 this link is to an article published around 1900. it describes tannin cells in persimmons. from what i gathered from the text, tannins in persimmons are present as

sack shaped cells that hold water. in the presence of water, the cell walls absorb it into their interior, if there is a dramatic increase in water the sacks absorb the water to the point of bursting, revealing the

astringents. this could explain why the first taste of a not quite ripe persimmon is not that astringent, only after a while are the tannins noticable in one's mouth. i wonder if cooking persimmons also

causes the tannin sacks to explode. this information could explain why the fruit pulp of the persimmons in the wine that happened at my house was bound together by the whitish looking tannins, the pulp

was exposed to water for a long time and eventually the tannin cells broke down in the presence of all the water and the open cell walls made of tannin were free to cling to the rest of the pulp. my guess is


that the tannin cell walls change as the persimmons ripen and part of the ripening process is losing moisture or transferring moisture from the tannin cells to the rest of the fuit. the tannin cells become

impervious to osmotic pressure as they age. again, this is my hypothesis, the part that i read was about osmotic pressure in the cell walls.


to summarize, i think that drying persimmons gradually allows the tannin cells to close off and therefore the tannins are less noticable because the cell walls stay intact and avoid binding to anything.

/(my experience involves diospyros virginana here btw, though i think the article is talking about diospyros kaki, the larger, more watery asian persimmon)
 
Judith Browning
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......I love this....persimmon obsession.....sounds like you are on the right track !!! Do you think heat plays a part or maybe just the process of mechanically separating the pulp from seeds does something to release tannins I am only familiar with american persimmons.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Judith we have the astringent American
Ones. They are not eatable when we pick them to dry. The tree produces so much we dry around 300 and freeze a whole lot of pulp when the rest finish.

For drying they eventually get sweet, and very good. Like dried dates almost. They are peeled up to the top
Rim and hung to dry inside with nothing more special than a string, the tannins early on must keep stuff away. When they get soft you massage them every few days to a week, when they start to harden you stop. At this point most people roll them flat, we don't. They last until next years crop with no less care than a glass jar.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks, Jordan...I think I understood the process except for how to peel them? blanch? I want to try this. And am I understanding correctly that you do this because you have so many that this spreads out your harvest? We eat a lot of fresh ones every day and will dry some as they ripen but always finish the dried ones before spring. Your method would let us pick from trees that we can't check on every day.
 
Kelson Water
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ha ha. yep. i'm persimmon obsessed. why, i don't know.


 
Kitty Leith
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don't know anything about persimmons. in korea there are two types: one is hard, a little woody, and (to my mind) really nice to eat - not too sweet, with a delicate flavor. the other is very soft and sweet and can get mushy really fast. people eat those with a spoon. don't like them. so when you guys are talking about asian persimmons, i'm wondering which one of the two types (if they are of these two types) you are talking about, as i definitely want to plant a couple one day. they are just gorgeous trees when fruited, and i love the twisty trunks.
 
Jordan Lowery
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Judith there is no blanching. We peel them like potatoes. With a potato peeler. Peel it all but the cap of the fruit. You need these to tie to. It's semi labor intensive but I really like the dried fruit. It stores with little care.

Also again were picking them when they just turn orange, long before they are fully ripe. So this way I can just harvest as many as I need and come back for the rest ( usually I leave the lower ones to make it easy on me later)

One mature tree can produce well over 1000 large fruits. I find they are edge trees too, they love edge with afternoon sun and morning shade here in our hot summer climate.
 
Judith Browning
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Thanks, Jordan, I think our fruit must be smaller than yours...I don't know if I could peel them with a potato peeler but I think I know where a tree with larger fruit is..

Suki, I don't know Asian persimmons at all (just our native...wild american diospyrus virginiana) but am starting to want to try them. "Edible Landscaping" has a whole page of asian ones...half of them the hard "eat like an apple" ones and the other half soft when ripe. It says they are all grafted onto native persimmons...I assume that means american persimmon diospyrus virginiana. Ours have perfectly straight trunks with interesting bark..the twisting trunk and large fruit sounds wonderful.
 
Kelson Water
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i wonder if the different kinds of persimmons have ever been cross pollinated.

 
Tyler Ludens
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Someone here directed me to a hybrid of Asian Persimmon and American Persimmon, Nikita's Gift: http://www.onegreenworld.com//product_info.php?cPath=1_49&products_id=952
 
Abe Connally
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Texas Perimmons are indeed quite drought tolerant. They thrive in the Big Bend region of Texas, which receives about 10" of rain annually, usually from July-September. It also receives temperatures in excess of 120F regularly.

We sue to pick the fruits when they were riper, boil and mash them, screen out the skins and seeds, and then make syrups and/or fruit leather.

They don't transplant well, though. In fact, I have yet to see a Texas Persimmon survive transplanting, and I know a lot of botanists that tried many, many times.
 
Kitty Leith
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Judith - thank you for answering my question!
Tyler - that hybrid looks like a winner!

fyi, the "eat like an apple" ones, which are not very sweet, also leave a dry feeling/residue in the mouth if eaten before fully ripe. So maybe that is the astringency y'all are speaking of. The sweet ones don't have this issue, but they seem to turn to mush very very quickly so need to be eaten immediately or preserved immediately.
 
Cris Bessette
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I have some wild American persimmon (Diospyros Virginiana) trees in my yard and in places nearby that I gather.
For the last few years I have been making freezer jam with the majority of them, I tried to make some wine last year but it turned to vinegar.

The persimmons on my main tree just started turning orange in the last few weeks, Me and the dogs have eaten a few that have fallen already.

The old wives tale about having to have a freeze I think can be taken in a general sense- the MAJORITY of the fruit on any given tree will become ripe around first frost.
I never pick persimmons, I only eat ones that have fallen off the tree. It seems to me that the tree lets go when the fruit is at the peak of ripeness anyway.

One reason I love these persimmons is that they are a late season crop. Practically every other type of fruit I have is finished by the time persimmons are ready. This makes it just that much closer to having year-round "edible landscaping"

 
Judith Browning
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Cris, could you share your freezer jam recipe? We're still looking for a way to preserve the sweetness in the fresh fruit. Ours have been falling for two weeks so besides eatting lots right under the tree (we also share with a dog) I am freezing them whole to eat these hot afternoons as "persimmon pops". We don't pick either but I have learned that I can bump the tree a few times and get a some more ripe ones.


Abe, Are the texas persimmons you make syrup from the black/purple very sweet diospyros texana ? Do they stay as sweet after heating?
 
Cris Bessette
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Judith Browning wrote:Cris, could you share your freezer jam recipe? We're still looking for a way to preserve the sweetness in the fresh fruit. Ours have been falling for two weeks so besides eatting lots right under the tree (we also share with a dog) I am freezing them whole to eat these hot afternoons as "persimmon pops". We don't pick either but I have learned that I can bump the tree a few times and get a some more ripe ones.


My "recipe" changes from year to year, but basically its persimmon pulp, sugar and some type of citrus juice.

If I have, say, 4 cups of pulp, then I add about 3-4 cups of sugar, and a couple tablespoons of orange juice / lemon juice.
The acidity of the juice adds a bit of zing to what might otherwise be a slightly bland jam.
Use the same ratios for more/less persimmon pulp.

Bring to a boil and then turn down to cook off to the consistency you want.

To get the pulp I am currently piling persimmons in a colander and squeezing the pulp through with a wooden spoon or a bowl,etc.
Its pretty messy so I am trying to find a better way to pulp them.

I used to plant all the seeds, but now I have like 40 young persimmon trees in various parts of the yard.
 
Judith Browning
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Tyler Ludens wrote:We also have native Persimmon Diospyros texana which are usually small trees or shrubs, with small rounded leaves, very different from the American Persimmon. The fruits are small and very dark purple/black and intensely sweet but not very flavorful. Texas Persimmon is significantly more drought tolerant than American Persimmon, in my experience. I think some parts of Texas have both kinds of tree. Recently someone on here told me the other Persimmons (American and Asian) can be grafted onto Texas Persimmon for more drought hardiness.


I just ran across that post I think you are refering to (there may be another I haven't seen) and I took it to mean that asian p. (diospyros kaki) could be grafted on to native p. meaning american persimmon (diospyros virginiana). I've never done any grafting...
 
Judith Browning
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Just today while sickling I noticed that our male persimmons are blooming and buzzing...loudly...with honey bees and other flying things I haven't identified. It always seems there is a gap before the female flowers open so I dont understand the pollination...but I love watching the busyness in those trees. I wish I knew how to tell the male from female trees at a younger stage by leaf or something...I tend to let small groves grow up volunteer and then wait a few years to find out whether they are productive or not. Somewhere I read that in Arkansas persimmon was a top honey producer...anybody know?
 
Dan Boone
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Best way I have found to extract persimmon pulp is to put the fruit in one of those zippered mesh bags sold for laundering delicates. Then squeeze pulp out with your hands ... Messy but rapid & effective! The bag costs $.99 and can be laundered and reused, though it may stain orange.

I freeze the pulp in 2-cup portions, handy for making persimmon bread.
 
Wi Tim
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It looks like people participating in this thread are all living in rather warm climates. I've heard that some varieties of American Persimmon are cold hardy to zone 4, though. Going to plant a couple of Meader persimmons this year.
 
duane hennon
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I live in west pa,
zone 5
and have both American and oriental persimmons for years
they take the cold and bear fruit
but neither have ever fully ripened
i've picked them out of the snow on the ground
and my mouth still puckers!

the deer, however, love them
there are tracks in the snow under the trees
right now
 
Michael Qulek
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I've not yet had success with persimmons on my property. I'm at about 5000 feet, and the winter cold is killing Japanese persimmons down to the root collar. They resprout the following year but haven't gotten past 2' tall yet.

I would have tried American persimmon, but there are restrictions on importing them into California. I have however found a supplier that's marketing an American/Japanese hybrid (sexual hybrid, not grafted) called "Nikita's Gift" that might be a winner. Will be transplanting it out into the wild later this spring.
 
Tony de Veyra
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Just an FYI for anyone in So Cal:

the South Coast Research Center, based out of UCI, hosts a persimmon tasting once a year, usually in november or december. A friend of mine went to the most recent one and brought back some delicious american persimmons that tasted like spiced rum. It was DELICIOUS!

I would highly recommend looking into your local Rare Fruit Grower association as a place to seek out budwood for delicious varieties.
 
Judith Browning
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duane hennon wrote:

I live in west pa,
zone 5
and have both American and oriental persimmons for years
they take the cold and bear fruit
but neither have ever fully ripened
i've picked them out of the snow on the ground
and my mouth still puckers!

the deer, however, love them
there are tracks in the snow under the trees
right now



I think this may be why I never had a good persimmon until we moved to Arkansas...Growing up in Illinois there were persimmon trees, but all I remember is someone giving me one to eat as a joke and the astringency that went on forever
 
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