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Saturday, September 29, 2012


Persimmons seem to be an underused asset.  Yesterday I found an American persimmon loaded with fruit.  There was a little bit of fruit drop beneath it and these fruits appeared to be ripe.  I had never had a fully ripe persimmon before, and I was blown away.  Luscious is the best word I can think of to describe the taste.  The juice burst through the skin at the first bite and had the flavor of a less acidic mandarin orange with subtle cinnamon and nutmeg flavors.  How has this fruit not become more popular?
Since that first bite I have been trying to think of great uses for this fruit.  Persimmon bread is one of the things I came up with.  The flavors would be sweeter than pumpkin bread, and I am convinced that the fruit would yield a wonderful moist crumb.  Or persimmon fruit leather.  The spiced flavors would lend themselves very well to fruit leather, that I think would be similar to eating pumpkin pie in candy form. 
Now there are some downsides to this fruit as well.  This was an American persimmon and so the fruits were tiny, about the size of golf balls.  However, the tree was loaded with them, with a couple fruits every few inches of branch.  In addition the fruits were very seedy, with more fruit being seed than flesh.  This is a little disappointing when you are eating them fresh, but if you put them in a jelly bag and squeezed for juice, or a mesh bag for fruit pulp it wouldn't be much of a problem at all.  I know that if the fruit is not ripe, it will cause your mouth to pucker so hard that it hurts. 
All of these things combined probably have contributed to the lack of enthusiasm for the American persimmon.  But then I look at the oriental persimmon and the Sharon fruit and I realize what selective breeding could do.  These fruits are much larger, and have much less seed.  There are even a few varieties that do not have the astringency that American persimmons have when unripe.  These exotic persimmons are not as hardy as the American, nor do I think they are as drought resistant. 
Surely with a little more plant breeding, American persimmons could be a wonderful cash crop.  They may not be as great of a fruit for eating out of hand, but for cooking with, or juicing they would make a wonderful addition to our farmers markets.  People need to be exposed to thinks in order to accept them, and I can think of few things that would be received as enthusiastically as a beautiful orange fruit, with a magnificent taste.

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