The Power of Persimmon:
Here’s a look at one of the most delicious and long forgotten wild fruits, indigenous to this area. This is the American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana).
While Asian persimmon is commonly found in grocery stores, this wild American counterpart goes virtually ignored. This is largely because when unripe, the American persimmon is extremely astringent and will pucker your whole mouth like you just tried to eat sand paper, and I suspect many have tried and been shocked by their foraging experiment. This action is important to understand and is due to tannic acid (same as in acorns), which is profoundly helpful in cases where astringency is needed, but not so great in the mouth. However, with some understanding of plant cycles and chemistry, after the American persimmon ripens it is sweet like cotton candy. Once ripened they are much sweeter than the Asian persimmons, which can be eaten unripe with no tannic effect.
The primary issue with eating ripe american persimmons is that they must be soft and mushy, usually somewhat unpleasant looking to those who expect “grocery store perfection”. For them to go soft, they require usually a few weeks of cold conditions which “blets” them. One of the main ways I test if they are ready is that you can pop the top off, which is called the calyx.
This kind of tracking and watching plants turn edible requires awareness as well as skill harvesting and processing techniques, secrets once commonly known but now almost lost to a “corporate food system” mentality.
One of my favorite ways to eat persimmon is adding them to oatmeal and mashing them up. I will soak oats overnight and add a handful of these as an amazing and healthful sweetener. They are so sweet an delicious that even with plain oats alone it becomes delicious and no sugar is required. They are like a date replacement and can be eaten right off the tree, or added to any dish to sweeten them.
To find persimmon, look for them along hedgerows and old farmsteads. They are also easier to find in the fall when the leaves have dropped but a tremendous amount of persimmon are still holding on to the tree (shake carefully). Consider, that they are along hedgerows because back in the generation of when most of these trees were born, it was considered sane to plant fruit trees on ones property! Who would have thought?!
Praise the power of the persimmon!
Forage safely and responsibly,
You can also check out my youtube video entitled, “Foraging for Persimmon” here: