Asian Persimmon Time!
It's that time of year again – Asian persimmon (Diospyros kaki) harvest time! If you're unfamiliar with persimmons, they're orange colored fruit native to China. Asian persimmon seeds were first import in 1863 by William Saunders of the USDA. In 1870 Asian persimmon grafted trees were imported and distributed to California, Georgia and other Southern States.
Asian persimmon trees are categorized into three categories, astringent, non-astringent and pollination variant cultivars. Non-astringent persimmons are generally consumed while still crisp. But they can also be eaten when fairly soft. Common non-astringent cultivars include the 'Fuyu' and 'Jiro'. Astringent persimmons are acorn shaped and can be as large as grapefruits. A popular cultivar is the 'Hachiya'. Astringent persimmons need to be really ripe to lose their astringency. Usually they must be almost mushy to the feel. At this point, they're generally eaten by spooning out the pulp and eating it like a pudding. They're also frequently dehydrated, which causes them to lose their astringency. And the fresh ripe pulp is often frozen so it can be enjoyed later like a sorbet. Ripe astringent persimmons can also be used to make jam. Pollination variant trees can produce both astringent and non-astringent persimmons on the same tree. Only those blossoms that have been pollinated produce non-astringent persimmons with seeds. Popular cultivars include the 'Chocolate' and the 'Cinnamon' cultivars. Pollination variant trees produce oblate shaped persimmons.
Deciduous trees, they require full sun. Mature trees are fairly drought tolerant. They tolerate a wide variety of soils, but do best in soil with a pH level between 6.0 and 7.5. Non-astringent fruit producing trees are know to grow twenty-five feet tall, whereas astringent fruit producing trees are know to grow thirty-five feet tall.
Non-astringent and astringent persimmon. photo by Kathy Low