Fall is a time for warm sweaters, falling leaves and brisk winds with the scent of winter. But for people with the right plants growing in the yard, its also a time for harvesting delicious fruits. If you’re planning on sprucing up your backyard, you could build a garden route or some other landscaping improvement, or you could plant a persimmon tree. More specifically, an American persimmon tree.
These fruit trees yield delicious, tarty fruit just when the first chill whispers through the air. Find out the difference between persimmon tree species, why you should plant an American persimmon in your yard as well as some recipes you can try, such as homemade persimmon jam.
American Persimmons and Japanese Persimmons
There are two major kinds of persimmons cultivated for their fruit in the United States. Before you plant a persimmon tree in your yard, you have to understand the difference between them. These two types are the American persimmon and the Japanese persimmon. Although there are other ways of categorizing persimmons, such as between astringent and non-astringent,
The American persimmon is native to Northern America. Known by the scientific name Diospyros virginiana, this name translates roughly to “Divide food from Virginia.” It’s naturally occurring in the East Coast as well as parts of the Central US below the Great Lakes. You can find these persimmon trees blooming from the south end of Connecticut all the way to Florida, and from Kansas to Texas.
American persimmon trees are larger, taller and have more width than their Asian counterparts. Their fruit is also much larger, if scarcer. Each one is full of that unmistakable persimmon taste. However, they also bear fruit at a much later age, approximately 10 years after planting.
Japanese persimmons, on the other hand, first originated in China before being imported to Japan centuries ago. Diospyros kaki was first imported into the United States in the 19th century. They were first grown in California by Chinese and Japanese immigrants, who make savory tea from persimmon tree leaves.
These persimmon trees are shorter in stature and thinner than American persimmons. However, they bloom much quicker and yield fruit faster. A Japanese persimmon can begin yielding delicious fruit as early as three to four years after planting. Japanese persimmons are now grown all over the world for their fast production and that delicious persimmon taste.
Why Should You Plant a Persimmon Tree?
You may be wondering why you should take the time or the trouble to plant a persimmon tree when there are other gardening projects you can turn to. For example, there are benefits to planting a mini garden at home.
Here are some of the advantages of planting an American persimmon tree in your backyard.
Helps Cool Your Property
Trees have been touted as “nature’s air conditioners” for a reason. One way they do so is by releasing water moisture into the air through a process called “transpiration cooling.” But the most direct method they prevent your property from heating up is by providing ample amounts of shade. American persimmons are ideal for this purpose because they cover a large area. Even a single persimmon tree in your yard can cover a lot of ground and reduce the temperature of your home drastically.
Yields Delicious and Healthy Fruit
The taste of persimmon is unmistakable and delicious. An American persimmon can yield a lot of fruit and they are just full of vitamins and ascribed with multiple health benefits. A persimmon is full of dietary fibers and are very low on calories, which means they’re ideal food for people who want to lose weight. They’re also chockful of vitamin A, which is important for improving your immune system, keeping your vision clear and ensuring healthy fetal development in childbearing women.
Small Side Income
Although the American persimmon takes up to 10 years to yield fruits, when they do, you can make quite a tidy profit selling them. A single persimmon tree can yield anything between 35 to 75 pounds of fruit each year. You can sell these fruits at your local farmer’s market or to neighbors. If you want to make them a little pricier, you can process the fruits into any number of products filled with that delicious persimmon taste. Great products include persimmon jam and persimmon-cranberry salsa.
How Do You Grow a Persimmon Tree?
Growing a persimmon tree can be quite challenging, as with cultivating any kind of fruit-bearing tree. If you plan on growing one in your backyard, here are a few persimmon tree care tips you should keep in mind to make the cultivation process easier.
- Persimmons grow in specific environments, specifically the ecosystems of the eastern, southern and central portions of the United States. Find out if your area fits the perfect weather for cultivating persimmon trees.
- American persimmons can grow quite tall. Specimens can reach anywhere between 35 to 60 feet in height if left unattended. Prune your persimmons regularly to avoid overhanging into a neighbor’s yard or becoming a danger to your home.
- Persimmons can grow well even under slight cover form larger trees, as long as it gets full sunlight and is on well-draining soil. If you’re planting a persimmon tree in an already occupied yard, make sure its neighboring plants don’t fully block the sun.
- There is a popular belief that you shouldn’t harvest persimmons until after the first frost to make them sweeter. This isn’t completely accurate because the taste of persimmon takes a long time to sweeten, meaning they may ripen late into the fall. Take a sample persimmon and check if it’s getting ripe instead of following the first frost rule when you’re about to harvest.
- Persimmons, as noted above, take up to 10 years to bear fruit. Be diligent and consult experts for persimmon tree care. They’re generally free from pests and disease so all you need to do is ensure they grow healthy. Your patience will be rewarded when your persimmon tree first blooms.
Tasty Persimmon Recipes
Whether you have your own persimmon tree in your yard or simply enjoy that astringent persimmon taste, here are a few recipes you can try to whip up in your own kitchen. Some of them, such as persimmon jam, can be easily packaged and sold for a nifty sum. Others, you can enjoy during dinner parties or on your own. There are plenty of other recipes involving persimmon out there and you should sample them all.
Persimmon jam is perfect for breakfasts or afternoon tea. It spreads wonderfully on buttered bread or on top of shortcakes and desserts.
To make persimmon jam, you need about 6 ripe persimmons. Rinse them thoroughly before peeling and removing any seeds. Dump them in a food processor and puree.
Pour the persimmons into a saucepan and add a cup of sugar. Boil on medium heat for 15 minutes with occasional stirring.
In a separate bowl, whisk together a tablespoon of cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water. Add this slurry to the jam along with the juice of 1 lemon. Keep cooking in low heat and stir occasionally until thick.
Transfer your delicious jam into sterilized jars and enjoy.
If you have your own persimmon tree in your yard, you can make delicious tea from its leaves. This invigorating tea made from persimmon tree leaves is perfect for fall weather, with its warm flavor and zesty taste.
In a large saucepan, pour 8 cups of water along with a large slice of peeled ginger, a large slice of peeled turmeric and a teaspoon of whole peppercorns.
You should also find 2 to 5 persimmon leaves. Wash them thoroughly and put them into the saucepan, along with a few slices of persimmon and about 6 cinnamon sticks. Boil on high heat before simmering for half an hour on low heat.
Strain away all the solids and sweeten with honey to taste.
Persimmon Cranberry Salsa
American persimmons also make an excellent side dish or dip in the form of this zesty salsa. If you want to spice up a fish dish or some chips, this recipe will be perfect for you.
Peel, dice and remove the seeds of 4 large persimmons and put in a saucepan. Pour enough water to completely submerge the fruits. Bring the water to a boil before simmering for up to 10 minutes or until they burst open. Drain and cool before chopping.
In a large bowl, add half a cup of sugar, the juice of a lime and about 2 cups of cranberries. Add ¼ cup of balsamic vinegar, along with a drizzle of honey. Salt and pepper to taste and add more honey if needed.
Finally, you can make appetizers from fresh persimmons. For example, slice the meat of persimmons very thinly and place them of small slices of bread. Top with ricotta and toast until the persimmon is browned and the cheese is melted.
Or you can bake thinly sliced persimmons until browned. Slice a ham or prosciutto into similarly sized bits and place on top of the persimmons. Fold in half and secure with toothpicks.
The American persimmon is just one of the delicious fruits that are native to the United States. This so-called fruit of the gods is well-named and quite hardy. Plant a persimmon tree in your backyard today if you want to enjoy this truly All-American treat.