Grackle & Sun

Favorite Fall Forest Fruit & other words that begin with F

When the frost nips and the trees are bare, a peek into the woods reveals a marvelous treat. Step a little closer…

Closer still…

Persimmons can be found all around the world, from Asia and India to Europe, Mexico, and North America. While similar, they all have their own unique qualities botanically, culinarily, medicinally, and even in folklore.  I will now refer you to a surprisingly comprehensive and thoroughly interesting Wikipedia page on persimmons. I’ll wait here while you read… Go on. It’ll only take a minute.

Fascinating, yes? Diospyros virginiana are the variety that grow here in Missouri and much of the Eastern United States. They differ in several key ways from the Asian persimmons often seen in grocery stores or fancy markets–mainly in signs of ripeness and number of seeds. Unlike Asian persimmons, this humble woodland variety is pretty seedy and not so pretty when ripe.

They look delicious, don’t they? But don’t be fooled by the gorgeousness. When they look like this–all lovely and plump and orange–they are total pucker-suckers. Seriously. I’m surprised dentists don’t use unripe persimmons to dry up saliva while they do dental work. They could retire “Mr. Thirsty” the spit vacuum entirely. The tannins in unripe persimmons are impressively effective.  It is really, really fun to give someone an unripe persimmon. But only if they deserve it.

So when are persimmons ready? I’ll show you.

1. Not even close. Feast your eyes and nothing else.

2. Now they are starting to soften up. Just a little. Just enough to encourage patience.

3. So close.

4. Perfect.

The cold frost has worked its magic, and now this wrinkly, darkening fruit is ready to eat. A quick shake of the tree will send ripe fruits plummeting to the earth where they can be gathered and taken back to the kitchen for making jams, wines, and breads. Or you can do like I do and stand under the tree and gorge your face with all the persimmons your belleh can hold. You know, either way.

I love the softness of the flavour, the way it is fruity without being overly sweet. I love that it is a source of wild fruit hanging ready and waiting when everything else is dying or going dormant for winter. I love that these trees grow wild wherever they please in our woods. As a child, when we first moved to the farm, I was always giddy and not a little bit in awe that this wonderful fruit was just there, in the woods, for the eating. No driving to the supermarket, no toiling in a garden or orchard. Just part of the woods. An invitation to also be part of the woods.  The most wonderful gift of the persimmon.

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14 thoughts on “Favorite Fall Forest Fruit & other words that begin with F

  1. I am going to try some mordant/dye experiments with mine, hopefully this week!

    • But then you have to not eat them!

      • Okay, I went out and ate two. Thank goodness for your advice, because I would have bypassed the wrinkled darker ones, but that’s the first one I tried, and you are right, they are delicious! It tasted like pudding to me. Also, there is a much better pulp to seed ratio than in the Texas persimmons I am used to.

        Then I took one that was just slightly firmer and brighter, and whoo! I got that alkali! So I will have to wait a little longer until more of them are wrinkly.

        But thanks to you and your link, I know that they will stay on the tree a while, so I don’t have to panic that I will miss them! I will treat myself on my daily walks.

      • :D

        Pudding is a good description. I read about the Texas persimmons on the wiki article. Very interesting about the seeds. Can’t wait to see your dye experiments.

  2. Never seen those here. Weird fruit.

  3. A beautiful post, Ms. Gracklebird. Thank you for the sun on a dreary November day!

  4. Your persimmons are beautiful at all stages. I just had no idea when they were at their best, thank you for the education. I actually think they are stunning especially at level #4 so chiseled and the colors! Beautiful photos too!

  5. I’ve bitten into a few unripe ones in my time. I can still recall the surprise of that intense pucker.

  6. I’ve seen a dye made from fermented UNRIPE persimmons…. it lovely! Someday I will try it.

  7. Yummm, I haven’t found one of these in the wild yet, but we had Paw Paw trees in our woods growing up – forest fruits always felt sort of secretive and exotic to me and tasted somewhat tropical…

  8. Pingback: Subtle Colors of Autumn | Deep in the Heart of Textiles

  9. You hav me wishing they grew wild here. But we do have medlars that also need to be bletted by frost.

  10. Pingback: Perplexing Persimmons | Deep in the Heart of Textiles

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