Persimmons are one of those odd fruits that seem to fit somewhere in the middle between kiwi fruit and custard apples. What makes them so different is that very few people seem to know what to do with them once they’ve harvested a few. Some eat them like apples, but the majority take a sample bite and discard them just as quick.
The persimmon has a flavour that’s quite distinct but is often found quite bland and wanting. The colour of the skin is the giveaway clue in what the inside tastes like; deep orange – full of flavour: pale orange – bland. But, the flavour may also depend on the variety being grown.
Astringent persimmons – the ones that make your mouth all puckery after you’ve taken your first bite – are probably the least preferred varieties. Instead, the Japanese ‘Fuyu’ or the Israel’s ‘Sharon Fruit’ are both non-astringent and are commonly grown and sold commercially.
So, how do you grow your own persimmons?
Before you go and grab a tree via some mail-order catalogue you may want to assess your climate and soil type as these trees are fairly ‘picky’. Unless you reside in a semi-tropical or Mediterranean-type clime your chances of success with a persimmon tree are largely limited. This is a tree that hates frost and struggles to survive in temperatures that are below 0°C (32°F).
The next thing to check is if your soil is able to adequately accomodate these trees. It should be free draining as persimmons don’t tolerate ‘wet feet’. It can affect their root systems and also produce poor quality fruit.
If you’ve convinced yourself that your yard might possibly house one of these 10m (30ft) mini-giants then you may be disappointed to find that growing one in isolation isn’t going to be too ‘fruitful’. Persimmon trees require a mate as they can’t self-pollinate – however, some of the Asian varieties are able to produce single-gender blooms.
The final hurdle to prepare yourself for is that persimmons usually take years to mature before bearing fruit. The trees will still require ongoing maintenance, pruning and fertilising over the years but it may be some time before they eventually reward you for your efforts.
But, once they do, the “fruit of the Gods” should produce in abundance. Then it will be a question of what to do with them so here’s a few suggestions.