The Persimmon has always been somewhat of a mystery to me. They have grown on our property for as long as I can remember, but we never “did anything” with them.
This was in such contrast to my mother and grandmother’s policy of never letting ANY food product go to waste.
Is it because the Persimmon is extremely bitter and inedible until fully ripe? We were always told frost had to hit before the fruit became sweet. Or because there is such a narrow window of opportunity to deal with the Persimmon, as it quickly becomes mushy?
After reading up, I found that the American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is native to the eastern United States. There are several varieties, including theJapanese Persimmon. I learned that in some countries, even in other locales of the U.S., they are quite popular and can to be found in the markets. But not where I live; I suppose we take the common old Persimmon quite for granted.
It has traditionally been thought of as food to be enjoyed by the opossum.
Through reading recipe books and food columns, I have learned that the Persimmon is also known as the Medlar in United Kingdom and elsewhere. Are they really one and the same? Perhaps readers who know could enlighten me.
Persimmons also have medicinal and chemical uses, and the wood from the tree is used in furniture construction (sometimes as a substitute for ebony, as it belongs to the same family of trees).
Here are a few photos of the Persimmon tree at the edge of our driveway, as well as close-up photos of the fruits. I tasted one and it was quite good. There is fruit to be had from the tree, but who’s going to climb up to get them? Not me. And I’m afraid their fall to the ground could bruise them too much for use.
Realistically I know I have no interest in investing my time to gather and prepare these Persimmons! But seeing them today against the blue November sky made them look so appealing that I thought you, like me, would like to know a bit more about this odd fruit.
|The Persimmon tree is now void of leaves and it's easy to see the fruit. Credit: wikipedia.com|
|The Persimmons look pretty against the blue November sky and wispy white clouds. Credit: wikipedia.com|
|There were many persimmons on the ground, but most were bruised and mushy from their fall to the ground.|
|My version of an "artsy" arrangement of the berries with a Sycamore leaf as background.|
Traditional Significance and Folklore Related to the Persimmon (source: wikipedia.com)
- In the Ozark Mountain region of the U.S. (roughly Arkansas, Missouri), the severity of the upcoming winter is said to be predictable by slicing a persimmon and observing the cutlery-shaped formation within it. (This is a myth with no bearing on weather forecasting).] The folklore about the seed says that a spoon means snow, a fork is a milder winter and a knife is a cold and biting winter.
- In Vietnam, the fruit is a part of Mid-Autumn Festival offering.
- In traditional Chinese medicine the fruit is thought to regulate ch'i.
- The raw fruit is used to treat constipation and hemorrhoids and to stop bleeding. Over-consumption can induce diarrhea, but the cooked fruit is used to treat diarrhea and dysentery; the opposing effects of the raw and cooked fruit are due to its osmotic effect in the raw fruit sugar (causing diarrhea), and the high tannin content of the cooked fruit helping with diarrhea.
· In philosophy, the painting of persimmons by Mu Qi (see above) exemplifies the progression from youth to age as a symbol of the progression from bitterness to sweetness. The persimmon when young is bitter and inedible, but as it ages it becomes sweet and beneficial to humankind. Thus, as we age, we overcome rigidity and prejudice and attain compassion and sweetness. Mu Qi's painting of Six Persimmons is considered a masterpiece.
Have you ever tasted a Persimmon? If so, what did you think?