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Persimmons: Weather Folklore and Recipes

Persimmons: Weather Folklore and Recipes

Each fall, the staff here at Farmers’ Almanac checks in with Melissa Bunker of North Carolina, a.k.a. “The Persimmon Lady,” to see what she finds in the center of her persimmon seeds. The seeds tell a story about what we can expect for the coming winter.

According to folklore, if you split open a persimmon seed and the shape inside (called a cotyledon) looks like a:

  • fork = winter will be mild;
  • spoon = there will be a lot of snow;
  • knife = winter will be bitingly cold and “cut like a knife.”

The inside of a persimmon seed (generic image). According to folklore, the shape of the cotyledon inside predicts the winter weather to come. The shape above would be considered a “spoon.”

But the persimmon is much more than a weather prognosticator.* It’s a soft, edible fruit (provided you bite into one that is lush and ripe, otherwise, you’re in for an unpleasant surprise) that can be eaten fresh, cooked, or dried.  Persimmons make delicious jams, pies, steamed puddings, bread and muffins, stuffing, curry, and cookies. They are also delicious when sliced and served fresh in green salads with watercress and nuts.

What Is A Persimmon?

A persimmon is actually a berry that comes from the edible fruit trees in the genus, Diospyros which has been fondly referred to as the “Divine Fruit.”  Native to China, the persimmon has been cultivated for thousands of years. Japan has been cultivating persimmons for about 1300 years. Japanese and Chinese cultivars were first introduced to the U.S. from 1870 to 1920.

Persimmon seed forecast - a bowl of persimmons

Today various cultivars of persimmons are grown in a dozen other countries. The American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana, also known as the Common Persimmon, is grown from Florida to Connecticut, west to Iowa and south to Texas. According to University of California/Davis, most domestic commercial production of persimmons is centered in California; in 2012, the 2,898 acres harvested produced 16,898 tons of fruit.

There are two popular types of persimmons: Hachiya is an astringent variety that is pale, heart or acorn-shaped. Fuyu is a non-astringent variety (pictured) that is orange, tomato-shaped, and a sweet variety that can be eaten while firm, although it should have a little “give” in the flesh when pressed. Learn how to select the most flavorful persimmon fruit!

What Do Persimmons Taste Like?

Some say the fruits taste similar to apricots, with a pudding-like texture when ripe.

Try this delicious, easy recipe that uses ripe Fuyu persimmon fruit:

Broiled Persimmons with Ginger Mascarpone Recipe

Ingredients:

4 ripe persimmons
Raw honey
1 fresh lime, quartered (reserve 1 tablespoon lime juice for cheese topping)
9 ounces Mascarpone cheese
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Coconut palm sugar

Directions:

Slice persimmons in half, crosswise. Place halves flesh-side up in a baking tray. Drizzle raw honey on top of each half. Place baking tray of persimmons under a broiler and broil until tops are caramelized and golden brown, for approximately 7 minutes.

While the fruit is broiling, whisk the Mascarpone, one tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, ginger powder, and vanilla extract together in a mini food processor or in a bowl using an electric mixer.

Remove hot tray from oven and squeeze fresh lime juice over each persimmon half. Place hot, broiled persimmons on a serving platter. Top each half with a dollop of the Ginger Mascarpone cheese. Sprinkle coconut palm sugar on the cheese topping and serve immediately.

*Be sure to look at the seeds from a locally-grown persimmon to predict the weather in your area. 

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  • Joyce Nicholson says:

    I have a persimmons tree in the edge of my woods. It bloomed this year, cute blooms. But it does not have any fruit on it. Would anyone not what went wrong. I don’t remember it ever having any fruit on it at all.
    I Love my Almanac! Have to buy one every year. Enjoy reading it. Keep up the good work!

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Thanks, Joyce! We found some info that may be helpful: “When the tree blooms for the first time and when it flowers each season varies depending upon the variety, whether it was grown from seed or grafted and local weather conditions. Oriental persimmons bloom after five years but do not bear fruit until after seven years. Grafted trees bloom within two to three years. American persimmon may take several years to blossom and still not fruit for up to 10 years. Both American and Oriental persimmons have alternate year blooming and fruiting. This means that you will get a large crop of small fruit one year and in the successive year, a small crop of larger fruit. Both varieties bloom in the late spring but the actual timing is dependent upon the weather which may also account for non-blooming persimmon trees. Occasionally, a lack of phosphorus may be responsible for non blooming. This can be remedied by adding some bone meal to the soil around your tree.”

    • Joyce Nicholson says:

      Thank you so much. I will just have to be patient till my puts on fruit. I had planted 3 seeds in a flower pot . I planted those on the edge of my yard yesterday. Hope & pray they live & bring my children & grandchildren fruit. Thank you again & keep up the good work.
      Please stay safe!

  • Barbara says:

    There is a big difference in these permissions in this article and the wild permissions growing in the Southeastern US. Wild ones need frost to sweeten them. If eaten before frost is on them you will know real quick. They are so bitter feels like your mouth turns inside out.

    • Terry says:

      I agree, many years ago my parents had a friend who had several large persimmon trees on his property and offered us the fruit, whereas each year when they ripened he would call my dad and we would go picking. We first picked the ripe persimmons that had fallen to the ground and weren’t damaged, and then we would climb into the trees picking what looked like ripe persimmons taking a treat or two as we went, however from time to time we would bite into one that wasn’t ripe and they do have a very bitter taste, however I recalled the slightest touch to the tongue would also cover the inside of your mouth and throat with a thick white waxy type buildup that was instantaneous. You can’t forget something like that and today about 50 years later I have a pretty good size persimmon tree that grew wild along my fence row and it’s putting out a lot of fruit, which the birds are getting them and leaving half eaten ones all over the ground faster than they can fully ripen.

  • anon says:

    never heard of this in my entire life

    • Terry says:

      Many years ago I recall them being very sweet and tasty fruit, but watch out for the unripened ones they will leave memories you won’t soon forget! Just remember to slightly touch the fruit against your tongue and if it’s bitter don’t eat, but if it’s sweet eat away!

  • Leslie Nelson says:

    We also live in SE Oklahoma. We had gobs of persimmon trees as a kid. They were on the bank of a pond and beavers have pretty much destroyed them. I like to keep them growing, because deer will always come on tour property . Deer are crazy for persimmons. Don’t let horses start liking them. Horses can get bad colic and possibly fatal.from overindulgence . Keep your horses away from fruit to be on the safe side.
    Very interesting. I did not know they originated from China!
    Leslie Nelson

  • sweetwater says:

    In Southeastern Oklahoma I had an abundance of acorns fall. They were full and healthy. However, the winter has not been as harsh as in the past, but then, February is not here yet. Persimmons were not as plentiful this year and those that did produce came very early and they were small in size.
    When you stated that you were celebrating 200 years and was reading antique editions I thought what a wonderful idea and went back to my own collection to read again the wonderful knowledge you provide. Thank you so much for providing us with such wonders and adventures thru the years.

  • Joni Roberts says:

    A picture of the bush or tree in bloom would be a nice add on to this page. Such a beautiful flower seen in many oriental depictions. Simple and bright…or is what I’m thinking is a Quince?

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Joni Roberts: Both the quince and persimmon have beautiful little blooms of dainty flowers – so pretty!

  • Jolinda Deal says:

    I grew up with a persimmon tree in my back yard, but it produced small (ping pong ball size)dark orange fruit. My mother made a pudding out of them. Can the large Chinese type be used in the same way?

  • If you notice a hole in the upper left-hand corner of your Farmers' Almanac, don't return it to the store! That hole isn't a defect; it's a part of history. Starting with the first edition of the Farmers' Almanac in 1818, readers used to nail holes into the corners to hang it up in their homes, barns, and outhouses (to provide both reading material and toilet paper). In 1919, the Almanac's publishers began pre-drilling holes in the corners to make it even easier for readers to keep all of that invaluable information (and paper) handy.

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