Persimmon Picking

The American Persimmon, also known as the Common Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a native tree of the eastern United States.


It is considered an old-field, hedgerow, early seral hardwood.  It has an autumn fruit that is quite tasty, but only when fully ripe.


My wife Michelle and our son Michael parked his truck along our driveway to collect fruit.  Ripe fruit is soft, orange in color and nearly over-ripe.  Fruit that is still yellowish and firm is not edible and will cause an astringent, cottonmouth, dry mouth feel if you attempt to eat it.  Animals know this too.


Fruit ripening has nothing to do with the need for frost or freezing weather.  The fruit naturally ripens through October, and once ripe, all manner of wildlife will flock to the ripe fruit trees, including deer, turkey, crow, squirrel, raccoon and opossum. Michelle uses an apple pole to collect the plum-sized fruits.  An apple pole has a wire basket with claws, and as the fruit is picked, they drop into the basket.


To get to the upper parts of the tree, Mike stands on the roof of his truck, which puts him at eye level to the fruit.


Persimmon fruit is high in fiber, high in calories, low in fat and contains antioxidants catechins and gallocatechins.


Persimmon is high in vitamin A, vitamin B and vitamin C, and contains folic acid and trace minerals including potassium, manganese, copper and phosphorus.


We collected about 8-pounds of fruit, half of which are ripe now and half that will ripen within the next two weeks.  The key is, we got them before the critters got them.  We did however, leave at least half of the crop on the tree.


Persimmon is old-school, and may not be currently in vogue.  Persimmon was however an autumn field treat that every child was aware of in times past.  For that matter, when I was a child growing up in Greenbelt, Maryland, I knew where every apple, pear, cherry and plum tree was located in town, and when ripe, it was time to hit them up!

Now for the interesting part.  We gave the fruit to Jim and Betsy Chaisson.  Betsy is a canning expert and makes great jams and jelly’s from all manner of fruit.  She has never worked with persimmon, and we all look forward to tasting any one of her recipes that she may consider with these persimmons.  I gave her two recipes for persimmon jam and the following link from Pinterest is a cornucopia of persimmon recipes.