Persimmons are a fruit, often wild, that is ready for harvest in the fall. Wild persimmons are native to most of the US, and can also be found in orchards in places like Oregon and California.
To look for a persimmon tree, in the fall you will look for the fruit hanging in the tree. In the summer it will be smaller and green, and plump up and turn color (to orange) in the fall. In the spring, you will want to look for their signature ‘bumpy’ bark, pictured here:
When you find a persimmon tree, see if it has fruit on it, or if it is spring, check back as time goes on to see if it starts to get fruit. You will know the fruit is ripe and ready for harvest when they are orange and squishy. Sometimes they will have a tinge of purple, too. You DO NOT want to eat green persimmons! They will dry out your mouth and give you a belly ache!
Often, when they are ripe, they will fall from the tree. This is when it is ready, and it has all the enzymes in it for digestion. This is the best time to eat them! Pick them up off the ground and put them in your container. You can wash them later. If you shake the tree, or if you had a recent windy day, the ones that are ready will also fall.
You will want to get them as they fall, because otherwise the deer, or other animals, will beat you to them!
When the persimmons are ripe, they will have a very sweet taste.
Take in your persimmons and wash them well. Pick off the stems that stick to them when you pick them or they fall. Put your remaining fruit in a pot, and smash it until it becomes the consistency of pudding. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of seeds, but we will deal with those next.
The next step is to run your persimmons, seeds and all, through a food mill, like the one shown here:
Put your hand crank food mill over an empty stock pot and run it through. The result will look something like orange pudding. This is called ‘persimmon pulp’. You can freeze this or make persimmon pudding! Below is the recipe we like best of the ones we’ve used.