Persimmons are a sweet fall treat often used in breads, puddings, and pies. They're also a favorite for wildlife so you may have to race the raccoons to harvest them.
This homegrown fruit comes from a common midwestern tree that is very distinct. The wood is very hard and dense which is ideal for golf club heads and billiard cues. The fruit is what it's known for and is highly favored for fall recipes.
The orange fruit usually ripens around the first frost. Be sure the fruit is completely ripe before eating one, because nothing can make you pucker more than a green persimmon. Scout for orange ones that are soft and mushy. The easiest method to harvest persimmons is to gather fruits that have fallen to the ground. The aroma is wonderful. You'll also be competing with opossums and birds for your harvest.
After you've collected your fruit, strain the persimmons through a colander to remove the large seeds. You'll end up with pulp, which is smooth and bright orange. Now you're ready to make the pulp into bread, pudding, pie, butter, or jelly. There are many recipes out there to get you started and add that taste of the wild, including one for cookies in the video below.
Persimmon Fun Facts
- Persimmons are a very important wildlife food. Fruit, buds, and leaves are eaten by deer, opossum, squirrel, bobwhite, raccoon, wild turkey, red and gray fox, and coyote. Many birds also eat it.
- Native Americans, explorers, settlers, and others have all enjoyed the edible fruit.
- Although ripe persimmons offer a sweet treat, the fruits are notoriously astringent if they are eaten unripe.
- Most people agree that our native persimmons taste best when they get so soft the skin starts to sag and the pulp is getting mushy.
- The dried leaves can be made into tea. The wood is used for golf club heads, textile shuttles, billiard cues, and brush handles.
- A pioneering tree in disturbed landscapes, the persimmon plays an important role in reestablishing a mature ecosystem.
For more on the persimmon, visit MDC’s Field Guide.