How do you ripen persimmon?

fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TXNovember 18, 2009

Had some good persimmon off my Eureka over the last two months. Now we had an 18F freeze and the remainder have softened but they're not as good as the earlier ones. Should I have picked them and ripened in a bag with an apple or some such, just let them sit to ripen, or what?

These are the first persimmon I really liked so I'm kinda disappointed.

The Fruitnut

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I hope you get an answer here, but I can't provide it. I am watching 3 Eureka persimmons on a 3rd season tree right now. They are deep orange, quite large and beautiful, and all in the same cluster.

This is one of 3 varieties from Womack's that I planted in spring, 2007. Fuyu held one persimmon, which I picked at the crispy stage, and it was quite sweet -- but Fuyu is non-astringent and Eureka is not. The third variety, Hachiya, also an astringent, did not hold any fruit this season.

The Eureka persimmons are still very firm to the touch, and I am afraid if I pick them prematurely they may be unpleasantly astringent. Apparently, the ones you picked earlier were not, or you would have noted that. We have had only one freezing night of 28.5F, but I will surely pick them before the next hard freeze. No sign of that yet.

According to the Womack description, Eureka is one of the favorite persimmons grown commercially in Texas so I expect them to be good. But I sure wish I knew when to pick them. It does seem that these things should be ripe by mid-November in Northern Virginia, but they have been deep orange for a month and are still hard.

It's silly I know, but when you have only three fruits on a young tree they seem to become quite valuable. Next year I will probably have persimmons for export from the looks of the trees.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 7:50PM
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Is that an astringent or non-astrigent variety?

I have read that the Japanese developed a technique to artificially ripen astringent persimmmons by holding them for about 48 hours at around 90 degrees Fahrenheit in an atmosphere that contains 0.5% ethanol vapors.

I wanted to try this last year, but didn't. Although I don't think it would possible to be that precise, my thought was to put them in a rubbermade container with a tablespoon of vodka soaked into a paper towel, and then seal the top and set it close to my heat register to keep it warm.

Now, whether this will work or not, I don't know. Below are some hits from Google about astringent persimmons and ethanol. Somewhere downstream a few pages I think some of the Japanese research papers come up.

Maybe that isn't they type of ripening you mean. Do you want them softer, sweeter? If so, I don't know what to suggest. As you say, there is always the ripe fruit method.

Here is a link that might be useful: Google search results about ripening persimmons

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 7:57PM
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Thanks for that link. Proves again that you can see quite a bit just by looking. After a little reading, I think that when the Eurekas are eventually picked I will put them in a gallon ziploc with a couple of apples to supply ethylene, and leave them on the counter for 3-4 days.

I did not know that ethylene was an effective agent for removing astringency from persimmons. Now at least I know where to begin experimenting.

Don Yellman, Great Falls, VA

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 8:46PM
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fruitnut Z7 4500ft SW TX

Well I think it's an astringent variety, but to tell you the truth I didn't try one hard. Just assumed that it was. A few of mine have ripened over almost two months. They just softened on the tree and were very good. Most persimmons I had in CA I didn't like. This one I really like.

I'd just like to ripen them like the early ones and not have to freeze them. But I'll try more of the frozen and see how they are. I'll also keep the ethanol method in mind.

I got mine from Womack as well. How big are your fruit Don? Mine are about 2 to 2.5 inches but I hardly watered, total neglect and no pests. A nice little fruit tree. About 50 fruit on a 7ft tree in about 6th leaf. It has bore every yr from a young age...four crops I think.

The Fruitnut

    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 9:02PM
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Hey guys,
This comes second hand as I think persimmons are terrible but I have heard you can use water to remove the astringency. I think you soak them in water for a few hours then dump the water refill the pot and do it again several times. I think this an old fashioned way to remove astringency of several foods.


    Bookmark   November 18, 2009 at 10:18PM
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When choosing and evaluating PCA persimmon varieties for the home garden, especially for zones 6 and 7, I believe it would be valuable to consider the quality of ease of ripening along with the usual list: cold-hardiness, ripening time, flavor quality, etc. This is highly variable from one variety to another; it is no coincidence that Hachiya, the astringent variety of commerce, is one of the easiest to ripen. This one can be kept in the fridge for later, ripened in a week while on display in a fruit bowl, treated with ethanol or ethylene or warm water for more rapid ripening or if the fruit is needed ASAP for a recipe, can be frozen and then thawed.

Other persimmon varieties are less accommodating, but after some experimentation, the best approach for each individual variety can be figured out. The goal is to transform an opaque, fully-colored, firm astringent persimmon into a translucent sweet fruit lacking astringency and maintaining a gelatinous consistency - what would be expected had the fruit been able to ripen on the tree. Attempts that produce an opaque soft sweet runny mess are unacceptable to me and I would think most others. Some of the more difficult to ripen varieties I've found respond to the gentle freeze/thaw cycles that often occur naturally in November (in zones 6 and 7) with early morning lows in the mid 20's. Deep freezes such as the 18F your persimmons experienced or prolonged lows where the fruit freezes solid will leave the fruit no longer redeemable for quality fresh eating but still useful for recipes. I cannot give you specific recommendations for Eureka as i have not ripened that variety, but next year you may want to try ripening a few by different methods to see what works best and also picking them before a hard freeze hits. I'd be interested in your findings as my Eureka should fruit soon.

    Bookmark   November 20, 2009 at 11:08AM
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Just posting a followup . . . how was the ripening of the persimmons? I got some late last year from a friend and they didn't ripen very well. Wondering if warm water or apples would work this year. Also, evaluating some persimmons for my new yard this year.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 10:36PM
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