When to Pick Persimmons and How to Preserve Them

Victor A. Crowley explains how to tell if persimmons are ripe, the best time to pick persimmons, and ways to preserve this unique fruit.

| September/October 1970

From mid-September, through Christmas and into the new year, tons and tons of a particularly delicate and delicious wild fruit go to waste—as far as humans are concerned—over a tremendous area of rural America. From the fence rows of Appalachia to the Ozarks, all through the southern Gulf states and even into the milder, fruit-growing regions of Michigan and the Great Lakes country the woods and roadsides, abandoned fields and eroded wastelands now covered with second-growth brush are dotted and lined with . . . wild persimmons in full fruit.

When are Persimmons Ripe?

A persimmon tree burdened with ripe fruit is really something to see! Every branch and twig and stem may be crowded with the luscious golden globes of goodness. Not a yellow-gold, but more of a flushed apricot with pinkish overtones.

It's strange that most of this bounty is never harvested because everyone likes juicy, aromatic, dead-ripe persimmons cooled by morning dew and bursting with sweet flavor. And why shouldn't a persimmon be good? The pulp contains as much as 34 percent fruit sugar, making it perhaps the sweetest of all nature's gifts.

It is this very sweetness, however, that limits the use of the fresh fruit because each luscious morsel is like a rich bonbon and only two or three persimmons are enough to cloy the appetite.

There's another reason so few persimmons are gathered: The fruit is edible—and only edible—when it's reached a stage of full ripeness so fragile that it almost melts in the hand and a fall from the tree to hard ground can make it splatter. Really ripe persimmons are about as delicate and difficult to handle as a soap bubble. If you cheat and pick one even a little bit firm and unready, it'll be as bitter as gall and cause your lips to pucker into a twenty-four hour kiss.

What to do? What to do?

11/13/2015 11:17:34 PM

Thanks for an interesting and informative article. I especially enjoyed the last two paragraphs on this page. Very lovely description of nature being its beautiful, wise and industrious self!

Niko Mo
12/8/2012 10:03:58 PM

We have a persimmon tree in our yard and during the fall it is our chickens' favorite spot to hang out. They just wait for one to drop- then they all dash over to the splattered fruit and devour it! We have harvested them from the tree when they are ripe but it very time consuming because you have to be so careful. We have also harvested them when they are still firm. Just line a cookie sheet with a kitchen towel, paper towel, etc... and line the fruit up stem side down and they will ripen perfectly.

8/30/2012 12:01:11 PM

Persimmons can most certainly be cooked, into pies, cakes, puddings - even beer! Google is your friend for lovely recipes.

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