Astringent Persimmon Trees
Persimmons are a great source of Vitamins A and C as well as potassium and fiber. While most fruit needs warm weather to ripen, persimmons are ready during the fall. Persimmons are a fall crop primarily ripening in September all the way to the beginning of the next year. There are two varieties of persimmons; some call it "puckering" or "non-puckering," though the correct term is "astringent" and "non-astringent."
Both kinds of persimmons should be cut from the tree with hand-held pruning shears, leaving the calyx intact Unless the fruit is to be used for drying whole, the stems should be cut as close to the fruit as possible. Even though the fruit is relatively hard when harvested, it will bruise easily, so handle with care.
An astringent persimmon is best picked and ripened for a few days until soft and nearly mushy before they are sweet enough to eat. They are the sweetest: richer and juicier than the non-astringents. Astringents are sweet like maple syrup when ripe, and quite interesting as a dried delicacy.
A non astringent persimmon can be eaten fresh right from the tree, when it is crisp as an apple. Non-astringents are a more mellow-sweet like cantaloupe or sugarcane.
Tips for Astringent Varieties:
- Freezing the fruit overnight and then thawing softens the fruit and also removes the astringency
- Harvest astringent varieties when they are hard but fully colored. They will soften on the tree and improve in quality, but you will probably lose many fruit to the birds
- Astringent persimmons will ripen off the tree if stored at room temperature
- Mature, hard astringent persimmons can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a month. They can also be frozen for 6 to 8 months.
- The astringent fruit is eaten when it has become jelly-soft
- Persimmons also make an excellent dried fruit. They can either be peeled and dried whole or cut into slices (peeled or unpeeled) and dried that way. When firm astringent persimmons are peeled and dried whole they lose all their astringency and develop a sweet, date like consistency.