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what can I do with persimmons?

 
author & master steward
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This is the first year my Japanese persimmon tree gave me a good harvest! I've made pancakes with them, but they're a new-to-me food and I wonder what to do with the rest of them. Ideas? Recipes?

 
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-treat like a stone fruit (and make a french fruit cake, like clafoutis)
-make jam
-make a stone fruit type pie filling (and the pie, danish, crumbles, etc)

I like to slice them and put them on my yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast.

The other thing I always do is take the last one, when it's finally soft and perfectly ripe and could be eaten with a spoon, and throw it in the freezer. On the first hot day, I take it out, let it defrost, and eat it with a spoon, a wonderful, squishy frozen treat from the fall.
 
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Leigh, those persimmons are totally gorgeous.  I am envious.

Tereza, I certainly have never thought of clafoutis as a cake.

"treat like a stone fruit (and make a french fruit cake, like clafoutis)"

Since I have loved clafoutis since reading about it here on the forum it totally looked like pie to me though I read it was a French Tart.  Since I have only seen the ones I make, who am I to know what they are?

It has been so long since I had persimmons I can't remember how I fixed them.
 
Tereza Okava
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hm. i haven't had a legit clafoutis in a long time (like you, i only eat what I make!!) so i could be using the wrong terminology.
Clarify to say:
use in a french-type fruit cake heavy on egg yolks and light on flour, with some kind of cooked fruit on the bottom or in the cake, taking up probably about half of the volume. Could be upside down but i tend to not bother with the flipping.
I'll come back later with my recipe, I use it for literally every single fruit that is in season here.
 
Tereza Okava
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Right-O: here is the french fruit cake recipe. I have looked high and low to determine where I got it from originally, but to no avail. It reminds me of this other great fruit cake recipe, but without the $$$$almond meal$$$$.
this cake is a standby here for a million reasons:
-it uses every fruit. I have literally tried it with everything. Bananas and apples are boring, but you could make this cake with grapes or kiwis or even tangerines, i bet lemon would even work if you could be bothered to supreme the citrus.
-it is a small cake, which is good for eating it up quick (when there's fresh fruit in it, around here in the summer things go bad fast)
-it's not overly sweet and the fruit really shines
-it is amazingly flexible. the spices can also be freestyled, the lime can be replaced by any citrus you have, the butter can be replaced with other decent oil if you prefer, same with the milk (cream, nondairy, etc). I have never had this cake turn out badly. Bonus: you sometimes can make some really cool, unexpected combos. Peach/lime/cardamom was a pleasant surprise.
-it's pretty and people are always amazed, especially if you use a glass baking dish. It can be messy: i don't think of it as a cake to cut but rather one you turn out with a spoon. but then have some ice cream around to put on it, which makes everyone totally rapturous. If you don't have any, you could also add some kind of cream or custard, but frankly it's gorgeous on its own.

French fruit cake

Mix up the following in the bottom of a round glass cake baking dish:
2 c sliced fruit (plums, peaches, mulberries, guavas, persimmons, etc)
2/3 c sugar
about 1/8 t (some pinches) of aromatic spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom that go with your fruit (cinnamon almost always works)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon (or lime)
1T flour
2-4 T melted butter

Now mix together the following in a bowl:
1 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 t baking powder
1/4 salt (if your butter is unsalted)
2 egg yolks
1 T melted butter
1/4 c milk
Do not overbeat; should be easily pourable/spreadable (if need be, add a bit more milk, depending on the flour I often add another 1/4 cup).
Pour the batter over the fruit and bake the whole thing at 425F for 30 min.


If I were cooking with persimmons, i would totally use persimmon, cinnamon, nutmeg, and yellow lemon. Maybe even sweeten use brown sugar instead of white.
 
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My favorite way to have persimmons is dried whole. China- called shìbǐng (柿餅) , Japan- called hoshigaki (干し柿) , and Korea- called gotgam (곶감),  have individual techniques for drying them whole- they end up flattened, soft (kind of like a soft dried apricot) inside, and with a sugary powdered exterior (from evaporation). They are gooey and delcious!

Basic rundown via wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dried_persimmon
 
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This quick and easy cake using raw fruit is my go-to recipe for persimmons.  Totally delicious with minimal effort and very few ingredients.  You can of course bake your cake from scratch if you prefer, but I've found that a good brand of cake mix does the job just as well.

NOTE: I make this with American persimmons (Diospyros virginiana).  I have actually never eaten an Asian persimmon, so I have no idea how interchangeable they are in a recipe (?)

I know a large, wild tree near me with a bountiful harvest every year.  It sits at the back corner of a grocery store parking lot.  Given the high quality of the fruit, I wonder if perhaps it was an improved cultivar planted there by someone, quite possibly left over from before this particular piece of land was a parking lot.  Who knows?!

All I know is that from September through November each year the ground beneath is littered with delicious fruit and that, despite it being in plane sight where hundreds of people drive past every day, the vast majority of those fruit go to waste.  Not even animals seem to eat them, as testified by the quantity of old, mummified fruits that collect there.  I have only ever once seen another person foraging from this tree.

When foraging, it is important to clean as much ground debris from the fruit as possible.  Once collected in a cup, carried home, and stashed in the fridge, the persimmons will weep and smush, resulting in a semi-gooey mess that is much harder to clean.  Even if the persimmon you pick up has already detached from its calyx and otherwise looks immaculate, there will always be a very small, very hard, needle-like nib on the crown (opposite the calyx).  I don't know what you call it, but you want to remove it.

I use uncooked, unsweetened persimmon in this recipe.  To process at home, just handle the fruit one at a time, making sure that any residual debris is removed, and smushing it in your fingers to reveal and remove any seeds.  This is harder than it sounds, as the pulp is very jelly-like and does not want to give up its seeds.  Wipe the seeds from your fingers - which will get very, very sticky! - on a towel, and place the smushed pulp into a bowl.  It is up to you how diligently you wish to chase down the smaller, unripe seeds.  But any fully-formed seed will be hard and must be removed.

Once you have about two cups of processed pulp in your bowl, you're good to go!  Give the collected pulp a quick whisking with a fork to ensure that it is homogenous in texture.

Prepare a cream-cheese-and-powdered-sugar icing, stirring in just enough persimmon pulp to turn the icing lightly pink-orange.

Bake a yellow butter cake mix as per directions, except that I substitute milk for the indicated volume of water.  Ideally, you should separate your cake batter into two baking dishes and simultaneously cook two, half-thickness cakes.  But I'm baking in a toaster oven, so I just bake one full-sized cake and then, once cool, slice it into two half-thickness layers.

Smear a good 1/4" of persimmon pulp onto the bottom cake layer with a metal spatula.  Then top with the second layer.  Then ice the assembled cake evenly all over.  Cover the top with slivered almonds.  Store in a fridge, and enjoy!

See what I mean?  It doesn't get much easier than that : )

Here is my most recent harvest, which was more than enough to make the cake pictured here.  I had probably harvested these nearly a week prior, but they kept well enough in the fridge.  These are now ready for processing to remove the seeds:



.


 
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If drying them whole is too difficult (I have failed at it repeatedly), you can slice them and put them in a food dryer or a warming oven. They are good dried.
Also I freeze them and then put them in the blender with whole milk. I find them pretty easy to slice even when frozen. About one to one, persimmon chunks to milk, or fill the blender with fruit and then fill it again with milk. This makes a low-sugar, low fat milk shake thing. I add a little vanilla or cinnamon and no sugar or ice cream, and it's cold and foamy and hits the spot.
Or if I pour it into dessert bowls and leave it until it's no longer icy, it sets up like a pudding. Takes a few hours, as I recall, but then you can eat it with a spoon: a milky, fruity jell
 
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Tereza Okava wrote:
The other thing I always do is take the last one, when it's finally soft and perfectly ripe and could be eaten with a spoon, and throw it in the freezer. On the first hot day, I take it out, let it defrost, and eat it with a spoon, a wonderful, squishy frozen treat from the fall.



Also, you can make sherbet with them.  Peel and freeze them, then put them in a blender or other kind of blitzer.  Add honey or this honey-based spice sauce.  The sauce is also good as a topping for vanilla ice cream. My Greek friend developed this recipe for his baklava, but I've rarely gotten past making the syrup. It's great on pancakes, too.
2 cups honey
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
1 teaspoon vanilla
1\4 teaspoon ground cloves
Combine all the ingredients for the syrup in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil (watch it carefully so it doesn't boil over -- it's a hot mess to clean up!) and then simmer for 10 minutes. Strain, or not as you prefer, then cool.  It keeps forever in the 'fridge as long as you use a clean spoon in it, and is a really tasty sauce.  I also freeze blueberries and whiz them with the sauce in a blender for blueberry sherbet. I suspect almost any kind of frozen fruit will work.
 
Tereza Okava
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Leigh, what are the seeds like in those persimmons? If they're like the ones I get, they're probably big and maybe large enough to kill your blender. If you slice them in half horizontally, you can usually get all the seeds out and freeze the halves for future use (like some of these great recipes above where they're blended up).
 
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if she’s only got the one fuyu, they may be seedles, since they tend to be when grown in isolation.
 
Leigh Tate
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greg mosser wrote:if she’s only got the one fuyu, they may be seedles, since they tend to be when grown in isolation.


Greg, I confess I don't know much about Asian persimmons, so I had to look through my notes to recall the variety. It's an Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro. I chose it because it is a heat-tolerant variety.

Tereza Okava wrote:Leigh, what are the seeds like in those persimmons?


The seeds are big enough that I've been removing them! They're slippery, but not that difficult to remove. (I should see if I can get any to sprout and try growing a few more trees).
persimmon-seeds1.JPG
[Thumbnail for persimmon-seeds1.JPG]
persimmon-seeds2.JPG
[Thumbnail for persimmon-seeds2.JPG]
 
Tereza Okava
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That kind of persimmon you can eat before they get super squishy (in other words: the hachiya kind, the kind that's not squat and is more "pointy" than "square" is often crazy astringent and then suddenly overripe, while the fuyus like yours are usually ripe when they're orange) so I find I can do more with them. In fact, generally I eat them like an apple every day when they're in season.
Ours come from old local orchards, and the seeds are big (often as big as my thumbnail or bigger).
 
Leigh Tate
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Tereza Okava wrote:That kind of persimmon you can eat before they get super squishy (in other words: the hachiya kind, the kind that's not squat and is more "pointy" than "square" is often crazy astringent and then suddenly overripe, while the fuyus like yours are usually ripe when they're orange) so I find I can do more with them.


This is good to know! Thank you! I do recall the description saying they weren't the astringent kind (probably another reason why I chose them, because our frosts don't cooperate with our native persimmons) We have really enjoyed them fresh. I'm going to have some fun trying all the different recipes.

With the extras, I'm experimenting with freezing them ready to use.
persimmons2.JPG
[Thumbnail for persimmons2.JPG]
ready for the freezer
 
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I enjoy this persimmon drying video…
 
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Wow Leigh! Those all gorgeous! I’m in Alabama and I’d be happy to buy some. I use them to flavor kombucha and eat them like apples.
 
                  
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Lucky you! We usually buy a lug of them and they keep for a month or more. Our favorite is use like an apple in salad, just add to lettuce and dress, or for pretty, sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and dress with balsamic. When they start to go mushy, freeze for individual servings of "sherbet" and, of course you can use like the others in a persimmon pudding or other cake once they are soft
 
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Got this from Cliff England at England's Nursery in Kentucky.  The get an astringent fruit to loose is astringency heat up a pot of water to between 130F and 150F, turn off the burner and put what you are going to eat in the pot.  Let the water cool and then the persimmons should have lost their astringency.  Should do this with fruit that is ripe but still astringent.
 
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Tereza has the right of it -- treat Fuyu persimmons as a stone fruit.
I make a Persimmon Pie that tastes like a peach pie, but in early winter.
And it's a lot easier to find several ripe persimmons than several ripe peaches.
 
Lexie Smith
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Asian persimmons aren’t all astringent when they are ripe. Some people wait until they can almost stick a straw through the skin and drink the very ripe pulp. I prefer a little less sugar so I eat them when they’re still slightly firm. I buy them (for stupid expensive prices) and leave them on the counter top until they get softish. Then I freeze them until all have naturally ripened then I thaw them and run them through the food processor and freeze them in ice cube trays. I use a cube to flavor 6-16oz bottles of kombucha. I’ve often thought the delicious purée would be tasty in lots of ways I’d fix peaches but haven’t gotten around to trying it.

I planted several Asian varieties but 3 years later, none survive. I won’t replace them until I get a better handle on my water situation.Native persimmons (at least around here) are very, very astringent until they have lived through a good, deep frost. After that (according to my dad who loves them) they become sweet and tart but no longer too astringent.
 
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For ideas that uses the percimmons as they are, I would suggest making Percimmon Vinegar (Kakisu) if you have a larger harvest, especially if you already enjoy ACV or other fruit vinegars. Press the fruit in a glass jar to get rid of the air pockets, cover with a breathable lid and leave for a while (few weeks) until mature, scooping off any unwanted growth as you notice it. Filter through a cheese cloth and let it naturally drip to collect the vinegar. At this point I would also find a use for the pulp as I find it to be valuable to aid in other ferments, and I simply wouldn't want to waste the lovely harvest!

Another idea would be dried percimmons (Hoshigaki), traditionally made from the bitter Japanese percimmons (Shibugaki) hung in succession on a string near an open window, but I wouldn't see why they also couldn't be made from the sweet variety if kept in a well ventilated area. Both prolong the storage of percimmons and make a lovely addition to your pantry over the winter months! I grew up eating these dried percimmons (Hoshigaki), Sweet chestnuts (Amaguri) and sweetened dried beans first thing in the morning on New Years day as they are said to bring good luck and good health for the coming year, so at least in parts of Japan the dried percimmons are valued for their contributions to the cultural celebrations as well.
 
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So glad to see this thread! We knew we had a persimmon tree, but the last 3 winters were always too late to get any and weren't positive which tree it was.

So yesterday we were noticing the persimmons up in the tree and got to looking to see which trunk went with the fruit. And as I explored through the brambles and looking up, I realized we have half a dozen persimmon trees out in our forest! One of them has a humongous trunk. It must be really old.

We were really excited about it, but had no idea what to do with them. The trees are over 40 feet tall so not at all easy to get. And they have so far to fall they're just smooshed when they hit the ground.

Any growers on here? If I top a tree will it kill it? Two of them need to come down or be topped cuz they're right where they will shade our new solar panels. Or we move the whole set up. I refuse to cut them down so am hoping we can top them.

The recipes all sound good. Do they can well? I'm wondering about making marmalade. I do like the idea of drying. They'd probably make some good fruit leather too. Do the dried ones keep very well?
 
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K Carpenter,
You can cut a persimmon tree way back, and shape it as it comes back again.
I have an Ichi Ki Kei Jiro, an Asian non-astringent persimmon with good flavor.
Cutting it back may eliminate harvest for a couple years.
Persimmon fruits:
- At the base
- Of first-year wood
- That grew from second-year wood.

So, to increase production:
- In the winter
- You find the youngest branches, that grew the previous summer.
- You tip-prune them to stimulate branching.
- Persimmons will appear at the base of the branches that grow out in the next season.
 
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Been losing mega pounds on Keto, 80 so far, so not eating our persimmons this year, but I am using a slice or three for the "2nd ferments" of my whole milk kefir where after the first ~24 ferment is finished, you strain out the grains to put in fresh milk while further fermenting the semi-finished kefir with a piece of fruit or some juice for a couple hours (I go to a couple days to lower the sugar even further) to intensify the probiotics and mellow the flavor.

Then, my mom ages ago used to bake a heavenly Thanksgiving Persimmon Pudding and serve it with "hard sauce" ( a liquored up frozen? whipped cream?) I found a slew of recipes online, but none yet that looked like her Bundt Pan version. She follows recipes carefully, so pretty sure that was called for. But any of them in other pans certainly might be as wonderfully moist & delicious!

Then, we also used to dry them in slices, usually storing them in the freezer for great snack food, but freezing's probably not necessary.

I am also feeding a couple every few days to my 8 lovely pullets. Don't want to feed them too much fruit, but they would eat them all if they could!
 
greg mosser
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Leigh Tate wrote: (probably another reason why I chose them, because our frosts don't cooperate with our native persimmons)



for what it’s worth, leigh, i have lots of native persimmons that do not at all require frost to get ripe (they start ripening in september, long before we get frost here). i suspect the idea that the frost is necessary just stems from the fact that many hold their fruit into winter/freezing times before dropping them. so the frequently late drop and cold weather get conflated.

not that this necessarily helps you now.
 
Leigh Tate
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I'm really happy with all the ideas and information people are sharing. And, I wanted to share my first persimmon experiments because they are really tasty!

I got this idea for extracting persimmon puree from Judson Carroll's The Omnivore's Guide to Home Cooking (the link is to its page on the Permies' Book Review Grid).

Quick and easy way to get a smooth puree

My first two experiments don't have special recipes. I just substituted some of the liquid the recipe called for with persimmon puree.

Persimmon pancakes


Persimmon cake

I picked the last dozen of my persimmons yesterday. So, I still have more to try some of ya'll's ideas, and will probably freeze a little more too.
 
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greg mosser wrote:for what it’s worth, leigh, i have lots of native persimmons that do not at all require frost to get ripe (they start ripening in september, long before we get frost here). i suspect the idea that the frost is necessary just stems from the fact that many hold their fruit into winter/freezing times before dropping them. so the frequently late drop and cold weather get conflated.

not that this necessarily helps you now.


No, but it's another interesting tidbit of information. We have one very tall native persimmon tree, so windfall is all I can get from it (if the critters don't beat me to them, which they usually do). The fruits do seem to be inconsistent with astringency/sweetness, and not necessarily frost related. They are very small, with large seeds, and usually quite squished if I ever find any; so not really worth the trouble. However, that tree is pretty much what prompted me to plant the cultivated persimmon tree I've been asking about.
 
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I just want to underline that the idea that persimmons need a frost to ripen is a myth, no doubt engendered by the fact that many trees typically ripen shortly after a frost. But, I also note that different trees ripen at different times, and differ some from year to year. Picking them off the ground ALMOST ensures that they will be ripe but I've learned to avoid that, unless I have a tarp under the tree or clean lawn, as contamination can lead to getting the runs, at least from raw fruit. USUALLY, a fully ripe persimmon is bright orange, almost translucent, and soft. And pulls easily from the tree
 
Matthew Nistico
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Mary Cook wrote:I just want to underline that the idea that persimmons need a frost to ripen is a myth, no doubt engendered by the fact that many trees typically ripen shortly after a frost. But, I also note that different trees ripen at different times, and differ some from year to year. Picking them off the ground ALMOST ensures that they will be ripe but I've learned to avoid that, unless I have a tarp under the tree or clean lawn, as contamination can lead to getting the runs, at least from raw fruit. USUALLY, a fully ripe persimmon is bright orange, almost translucent, and soft. And pulls easily from the tree


In total agreement that no frost is necessary before harvesting persimmons.  The native persimmon tree I frequent starts dropping good fruit here in late September, well before the frosts.  A good frost will hasten them along in the bledding process, for sure, but it is not necessary.

I only ever pick persimmons from the ground once they are already soft and squishy and ready to eat.  While it adds a step - carefully removing bits of ground debris as necessary - I've never had any gastrointestinal complications as a result.  And I usually consume them raw.  Perhaps I've just been dancing through the rain drops so far, but if asked it wouldn't have occurred to me to warn anyone against harvesting them that way.
 
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Good to find out that the frost thing is a myth! Having never had a taste for the native ones, I haven’t ever tried to determine its veracity but have heard it all my life. All I have ever personally done with them is use them to catch the possum or raccoon that was feasting on them, with the camera or the live trap if they needed relocation away from my chicken coop.
 
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When they are still firm, I will peel and hang to dry.

When they are ripe and soft I put put them through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. The persimmon puree that comes out makes a great single ingredient fruit leather in the dehydrator.  

If anyone has extra seeds, I will plant them here at Wheaton Labs.  
 
Leigh Tate
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Fred Tyler wrote:If anyone has extra seeds, I will plant them here at Wheaton Labs.  


I should be able to come up with a few. Sending you a PM.
 
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When I lived where the native ones are abundant, I used a food mill to separate the pulp from the seeds and froze it in measured quantities. There is a wealth of recipes and ideas for using the pulp online. I made cakes, breads, puddings, and more. It's a great ingredient but cannot be safely canned. Freezing and drying are good ways to keep it.
 
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I've written up a recipe for persimmon cookies on my Substack.

Here's the podcast version, with the recipe onscreen for ease of use.

I used native Diospyros virginiana for these cookies, which are DELICIOUS.

You could also sub in honey for the sugar, but you'll need to reduce the persimmon pulp or another liquid a bit to compensate for the added moisture of the honey.

These are the perfect fall treat!



Persimmon-Cookies-Done.jpg
[Thumbnail for Persimmon-Cookies-Done.jpg]
 
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I'm finally making hoshigaki this year. I have high hopes. My wife's family has been making these for years and this is my first go. Even after the relatives took the first 200 persimmons there's still another 200 or so to harvest. The higher ones up on the tree are left for me of course! It's okay I'm tall and good with extending harvest pruners and ladders. 200 persimmons is approximately 20,400 calories. Not to be wasted. I've been counting my calories recently!!!

First, when harvesting it's helpful to keep the stem and a bit of branch on in a T shape for easier tying up. Persimmons regrow vigorously from a strong pruning, so I don't worry about cutting the branches.

Trim the "gaku" what is that in English? stem leaves?


Now it's easier to peel all the way up and there's less stuff in the way when it's finished drying.


Peel from bottom to top


Cut and discard any questionable bits, though most persimmons seem to have a few black spots which doesn't seem to be an issue.


Ready for tying in pairs, one on each end of about 40-50 cm of string. Be careful of overloading your string... these actually fell this morning and I had to wash and reboil them and then tie them up with a stronger string. My cheap jute was not good enough...


Dip in boiling water for 5-10 seconds. Alternatively I have also read you can sterilize by spraying with high proof alcohol, but I haven't tried this method and don't know anyone that has.


Then hang in a dry location with good air flow.


Next year I intend to make Kakishibu with all the fallen green fruit.
 
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