I have a small fruit orchard, with around a dozen or so fruit trees. While it’s a romantic concept to grow your own fruit, I’ll be honest in telling you it’s slightly challenging to grow perfectly organic disease free fruit here in the Willamette Valley. Apples, in particular, seem to be very prone to scab and worms if left untreated. I don’t really want to spray my fruit trees, because they are adjacent to my blueberries and raspberries and Pinot noir grapes. So, a couple of years ago I decided to forge ahead with the “survival of the fittest” concept: Leave the trees on their own (except I do fertilize)—and see which ones do the best with little care.
And what a surprise: Persimmons—a fruit tree that is certainly not native to North America (they originally hail from China and Japan), have fared the best. My two small trees, on their 5th or 6th year in my yard, continue to provide me with loads of disease free fruit with no care at all. I nearly filled my wheelbarrow yesterday (along with a couple of lingering pumpkins) before the hard frost came this morning. My gloves were muddy from doing other garden chores. Pick your persimmons before a hard freeze when temperatures are in the low 30’s to prevent damaged fruit. They will continue to ripen on your countertop.
I have come to think of persimmons as a Thanksgiving food, because these fruits ripen here in Oregon in November. I have two varieties: Hachiya and Fuyu. Fuyu fruits are smaller and flatter. Fuyus can be eaten raw like an apple, and have a taste similar to pumpkin with a hint of pear. They are excellent consumed raw, and they are delicious on salads. Hachiya persimmon fruit are larger, rounder. These taste terrible raw (very tart), but are superior in baked goods. When ripe, they become very soft and the puree can be used in baking. You can also make persimmon jam or jelly, chutney, or even roast them in the oven. In the photos below, the Hachiya are on the red towel and the fuyu are in the foreground.
I will develop a few recipes for my persimmons, and post them this upcoming week. In the meantime, while they ripen, I will artfully display them. I used a basket, an old enameled basin, and a very tall footed vase for my three displays. I mixed in sprigs of Juniper from my yard (mine is ‘Skyrocket’ Juniper). You could make these same displays using oranges, lemons, or apples. Nothing could be easier. You could also insert candles for an extra special centerpiece. Enjoy!