I have to admit that I am not a big fan of the flavor of persimmons with one exception … dried. Dried persimmons have a more intense flavor and make a wonderful, healthy snack. I have dried the Fuyu persimmons by just cutting the fruit horizontally into about ¼-inch thick slices and then putting them in the food dryer. It is a very easy method to preserve the fruit. They are tasty little treats but they can be a bit leathery and brittle.
Fruit is typically harvested in late September through early November. Be sure you retain the stem when harvesting; you will need it to hang the fruit. The fruit is peeled, and hung whole to dry in a warm area with good air circulation and protected from rain. The fruit is allowed to hang for about 3 and 7 days until it forms a skin on the outside. The fruit is then gently hand massaged to break up the hard inner pulp. The massage process is repeated every 3 to 5 days for 3 to 5 weeks. When the fruit is ready, a bloom of sugars forms on the surface, creating a fancy white coating. You can tell when the fruit is ready when the pulp is set and you can no longer roll it around. You then remove it from the hanging rack. I like to flatten the fruit out using a rolling pin and then layer and stack the dried fruit for storage. If you package them in a fancy container, they make lovely hostess or holiday gifts.
This traditional method of processing persimmons is virtually gone from the commercial markets but there are many small growers who have the skill, dexterity and patience to process fruit in this time consuming way. You may be able to find them at your local farmers markets if you want to try them. If you have a Hachiya persimmon tree in your yard and want to find ways to use the fruit, give this method a try next year. For more information on growing persimmons check out The Backyard Orchard Website or The Home Orchard Manual