Friday, September 18, 2009

Persimmons Part Deux

I may be falling in love with a fruit.

If you haven't been by here lately, you might want to start with yesterday's post before reading on.

Today I brought my camera with me on my walk, so I can show you where our persimmons are coming from. It's been gray and dreary for several days, so the light wasn't the best--which is my excuse for the out-of-focus picture above. But, if you imagine it all sharp, isn't it beautiful?? *eager grin*

Okay, here's the tree whence pluck we our sweet persimmons (if you click on it to biggerize it, you'll see it's really loaded with fruit):

Lisa, if you look at the base, and the way it's growing from the bank, you'll probably agree that this wasn't planted on purpose. But some genius recognized it for what it was, and let it grow. Thank you, anonymous genius! Now, if you look at the tree itself, you'll see that the majority of the fruit is on the left side--and if you'll let your gaze drift downward, you'll see that a raft is in order here.

I don't have a raft. (Don't think I haven't considered knocking on some doors to ask if anyone has a rowboat, though!!) So, down the bank I clambered, and out onto the trunk. I am smugly proud of retaining a little trick from the blackberry picking days of my youth: I tied the handle of my plastic bag to the belt loop on my shorts, leaving my hands free for maneuvering and pulling branches down to myself.

Oh, and, um...I had to tie something else to make sure my hands were free:

So sorry, baby, that your walk turned out so boring. But I really, really do appreciate your patience. Such the perfect dog.

It took me no more than ten minutes to gather what little I could; much of the fruit is still unripe (yes, Alix, I thought of your optimism as I looked at the green and yellow ones hanging within reach). And I must say that I can't imagine that anyone scrabbling around in that tree, up and down the bank, contorting oneself into every awkward pose to reach only the ripest fruit, could deny that we are descended from apes. I felt very monkey-ish, and I embraced it.


Anyway, I managed to about double our harvest, and seeing that several were already split, plus the ones from last weekend weren't looking so hot, I decided to go ahead and process them as much as I could.

So back to Google I went, and here's a bit of what I learned: these are definitely native persimmons, Diospyros virginiana, which means they are smaller than the more common Asian varieties, and it's vitally important to harvest only the ripest ones. A ripe one feels like a bag full of jelly; the unripe ones are apparently so astringent, "one unripe persimmon will ruin the taste of 100 ripe, so be safe or be sorry." I'm glad to say I've escaped the trauma thus far of an unripe persimmon. (You can find out more about persimmons, and get recipes, here and here.)

I also found out that the native persimmon is not self-pollinating. Which means there must be another one nearby. But it may also explain why this is the first time in at least 3 years that it's fruited: perhaps that other tree isn't very nearby after all. A mystery...and it also makes this year's harvest all the more precious; who knows what conditions it needs to fruit again?

So, anyway, back to the persimmons in hand. It seems most recipes are happy with pulp, and that pulp will keep for a month in the fridge, six months frozen. I figure we can harvest and pulp them as they ripen, then figure out what we can make with the results.

So out came the colander...

...and I squished into those ripe jelly bags...

That's a lot of seed for a fruit that's smaller than a ping pong ball!

I just used my hands and squished and squished and squished...and this is when I started to really fall in love with persimmons. The's something between fresh flowers and fresh bread. It's the intersection of food and beauty, spring and winter, fresh and savory. My latest Great Idea is persimmon perfume; it can't miss.

Well, after dreaming for a few minutes of fresh ginger bread and pale pink rose petals, I realized I had squished down about everything I could, and was left with this:

Hmm....not so yummy. My hands, on the (sorry), were DELICIOUS! Soap and water? I don't think so! I did let Rosie get a few licks in, too; she certainly had earned it.

And then, lifting up the colander, I was also left with this:

It looks pumpkiny in this picture (and the way the flesh clung to the seeds reminded me of jack o'lantern season), but it's a deeper, slightly reddish orange color in real life. And, of course, it smells much, much better!

I carefully scooped the precious pulp into a 2-cup container; I'm guessing we've got about 2/3 of a cup. And then, there's a little bonus: the adorable little flower-shaped toppers I saved.

I'm thinking of saving them for something crafty, not that I have the imagination or time to figure out what that might be.

Oh, but I wasn't finished yet! I hope you don't think I just tossed all those seeds in the garbage and went on about my business! Oh no, back to Google I went, and found that planting persimmon seeds may be easier than I thought. So I spent about 20 minutes cleaning a handful, before I got bored and stashed the rest in the fridge for later. (It's a ridiculously time-demanding activity, as each seed is encased in capsule of gelatinous goo. Once you break through the goo, it's actually easy to peel it off the seed, but it's still a gooey, slippery job.)

I didn't take pictures of the seeds, but they look like large, flattened coffee beans. And as I cleaned them, I had an interesting idea: would any of my blog readers be interested in trying to grow persimmon trees?

So, I guess this is my first giveaway, if I can find any takers! I'll send anyone who asks several seeds, plus directions on planting. (These directions are gleaned from the internet, so they're not authoritative.) I'll send several seeds so you'll have better luck getting a male and a female tree; if you don't have space for two, they are also quite attractive shade trees with nice fall foliage. Or maybe you can convince a neighbor to try growing one!

From what I've read, the persimmon is more common in the south, but will grow further north as a smaller tree. The furthest north I've seen it mentioned is southern Illinois. So I don't know if my Yankee readers will have much success.

If you're interested in trying some seeds, drop me a line at my name at I'd be happy to send you a whole persimmon, but jelly bags don't travel very well. Plus...hey, grow your own!


  1. Me! Me! Oh me, oh me, please? Pleeeeeeezzzzeee? Pick me and I will plant.

    I don't know how well our climate will agree with Persimmons, but I'll research and give it the old college try.

    I love your Juliaesque post with all its information and juice. And extra high fives (paw fives) to Rosie for being the consummate fruit guard dog. She really is perfect!

    And Flar, I'm not kidding.... I BOW to you for all this effort you have put into your Persimmon experiment. I wish you lived closer... we would SO be best friends.

    Love you and can't wait to hear what becomes of your Persimmon pulp. Jelly preserves perhaps?

  2. Actually, persimmons are HUGE here in Indiana! It's one of our regional foods. When you talk about Indiana food, the answers are usually pork tenderloin sandwiches and anything persimmon.

    Persimmon pudding and persimmon ice cream are popular. Persimmon fudge, persimmon donuts and breads. Mitchell, IN is the "Persimmon Capital of the World." The Persimonn Festival starts this weekend and goes until next weekend- wanna come for a field trip?

  3. talking about persimmon perfume - after I read your other post, I was thinking that I hadn't noticed anything scented as persimmon.

    like yours at the pond - the one at Myrtle Beach is in an odd place out from my inlaws beach house, I guess it just popped up there.

  4. Fascinating!! I commented in your first persimmon post that I thought they were imaginary fruits found only in a magical kingdom - you and your readers have proven me wrong! Again.

    Honest, I knew they were real but, to my knowledge, have never met one! I wish great growing luck to everyone who accepts your offer of seeds. And I look forward to your persimmon results. I love that word - persimmon!

  5. I looked for some at the market this week but there weren't any. I'm still on the hunt to try them.

  6. Interesting! We have some wild persimmon trees behind the goat pastures but I never gave them much thought. The deers and raccoons seem to like them. Now you have peaked my interest in persimmons, great post by the way.

  7. I fell in front of a fruit too ( sorry gay joke) x

    1. Oh, so very cheesy, but it did make me laugh!


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