Glowing orange and as sweet as candy, the cultivated persimmons are ripe and abundant right now. They are one of the delicious treats early fall has to offer, along with sweet potatoes, roselle, and pumpkins. These cultivated persimmons seem huge and mild compared to the wild persimmons we have already enjoyed.
This was the first year we had quite a lot of persimmons on our trees in the orchard, but sadly the dastardly baby goats busted through their electric netting earlier in the summer. I was trying to get them to keep weeds clear of the trees, but they ate the trees instead… That’s goats for you, you just can’t trust them with anything.
Instead we’ve been getting persimmons from the Jonesville persimmon orchard right off of Newberry Road. It used to be U-pick a couple of years ago, but now they offer five different varieties of already picked persimmons for sale Tuesday through Sunday, 10am-6pm. There are several different varieties each of the astringent and non-astringent persimmons.
If you’ve ever tasted wild persimmons, you’ll know that persimmons are naturally astringent… meaning they will pucker your mouth up in the most awful way.
Cultivated persimmons come in two kinds – astringent and non-astringent, and they are both good in different ways. The non- astringent persimmons have very little mouth-puckering qualities, and can be eaten like apples while still crisp and even with a little green on them still. The are mild, sweet, and pleasantly crispy.
The astringent persimmons are NOT to be eaten green! I mean… I guess you could, but you wouldn’t get past the first bite without drooling and regretting it. Like wild persimmons, they must be perfectly soft and ripe. They can be picked mostly ripe, when they won’t fall and splatter, and be carefully ripened in a bowl of rice, which prevents them from spoiling while they ripen.
Persimmons spoil quickly, and must be eaten quickly. But here are two delicious ways that both astringent and non-astringent persimmons can be preserved and enjoyed to extend the season!
Persimmons make the best frozen treats! They stay slightly creamy when frozen, and are like eating an ice cream popsicle.
The non- astringent persimmons have a rounder shape, and we found them to be more difficult to eat when frozen. They don’t have the creamy texture that doesn’t quite freeze all the way like the astringent ones. They were best frozen whole and cut into quarters with a sharp knife before eating.
Ken Hawes from the Jonesville persimmon orchard told us about this idea, and it has quickly become a popular snack around here. The nice thing about drying persimmons is that you can use either the sweet non- astringent persimmons, or under-ripe astringent ones. This is the first successful thing I’ve ever been able to do with under-ripe astringent persimmons (for obvious reasons) , and I’m really excited about it!
Slice up firm persimmons of either kind. The thinner the slices, the more quickly they dry.
As they dry, the astringency leaves them. They are mellow and sweet when completely dry. Lay them on a dehydrator or on a parchment- lined cookie sheet and dry in a low oven. You could probably even dry them on the dash board of a car parked in the sun, as we did for peppers one year.
They make an excellent healthy snack. I hope you are also enjoying the sweetness of the season!