Persimmon trees are great fruiting additions to your backyard garden, and the fruit makes a delicious, healthy snack for the whole family. I love growing fruit trees in my yard, and the persimmon tree is both attractive and easy to maintain in my climate. In fact, varieties of American persimmon (like Prok and Yates) are native to North America, so they naturally fit right in!
There are 2 common types of persimmons: Asian and American. Some Asian varieties (like Tanenashi) and all American varieties (Prok, Yates) are astringent, meaning their fruit is bitter and inedible until fully ripe. The American varieties will soften and fall off the tree when fully ripe.
The Asian persimmon varieties Fuyu, Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro, and Saijo are not astringent; they are firm, round, and flat more like a donut. When ripe, they should be picked straight from the tree. I like to use Asian varieties for dehydrating and snacking, but I love to grow the American variety in my garden for fresh eating as well.
Both types are low maintenance and available to order from Stark Bro’s. They will come in 4×10” pots and take 3-5 years to produce a generous harvest. Most persimmons will grow between 20-40 feet, but the Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro will grow between 10-15 feet tall.
Persimmon trees like a well-drained, slightly acidic soil and full sun exposure, though a little shade is okay. Don’t be alarmed by the dark color of the roots and trunk — persimmons have almost black wood and are often substituted for ebony! That and the unusual bright orange color of the fruit are just a few reasons I love to see them in my yard. New transplants will need regular watering until they adjust to the soil conditions but, once they take, they will be fine on their own. In 3-5 years, you will start to see fruit!
My favorite way to eat persimmons is dried, as a fruit snack. They’re loaded with Vitamin A and are a traditional remedy for all sorts of stomach and digestive problems. Just slice them up thinly and evenly, and lay them on a sheet of parchment paper in a dehydrator. You want them all to be the same thickness– that way they’ll dry at the same time. (You can get a dehydrator online for around $40 dollars, and they come with a guidebook that will tell you which settings to use, and for how long. But you will typically need to let persimmon fruit dry for about 7-8 hours or overnight.) When you take them out, you’ll have a delicious and healthy snack! I store them in airtight containers and send them with my daughter as a snack during lunch.
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