Country MoonDown here in central Indiana, folks get excited this time of year about a little-known fruit. Persimmons are little fruits with big hearts. Not widely known to many, they can be a sweet treat to your list of fall favorites.

This soft, edible fruit has a taste all its own and they are often referred to as “divine fruit.” Scientifically, they are classified as a berry although most people think of them as a fruit. Whichever way you classify them, they have one quality that sets them apart from all other fruits.

Not having these little gems in Michigan, I was introduced to this special feature of persimmons in a unique way. We were checking out Ron’s persimmon tree a couple years ago in early fall before the fruit was ripe. He plucked one off the limb and was shining it up on his jacket, much as you would do an apple. Instinctively, I grabbed it and bit into it, eager to try it for the first time. That was a mistake. My mouth instantly drew up into a pucker worse than any dill pickle had ever affected me.

All persimmons have soluble tannins which accounts for their bitter taste which makes your mouth draw into a pucker. This is only while they are still green. When fully ripe, their high glucose content gives them a sweet and delicate flavor. To reach this stage, the small orange fruits must go through several frosts and freezings, even to the point where their flesh starts to turn black and they are soft when squeezed.

There are two varieties of persimmons, Hachiya is the more astringent type while the Fuyu is not so much. They both mature late in the fall and the season for harvesting them can go from September to December, depending on the weather. They can be picked before they are completely ripe and left on the counter to fully ripen or they can be placed in a paper bag with apples, pears or other fruit that release ethylene gas to speed up the ripening process.

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