Originally from China, persimmon trees have been grown for thousands of years for their delicious fruit and beautiful wood. Their orange-colored fruits are known for their sweet, honey-like flavor. While hundreds of types exist, the Hachiya and Fuyu Asian varieties are among the most popular and are more likely to be found on supermarket shelves.

The American native persimmon is a little different from the Asian varieties and these are what Western Maryland Lemonade uses in their product. They are much smaller than their Asian counterpart. These were relished by the Native Americans, but has never been embraced as a commercial fruit crop because many native cultivars are too soft for commercial shipping. The American variety is more cold-hardy and their range is New England to Florida and west to Texas and Oklahoma. All persimmons are very high in plant chemicals called tannins that give the unripe fruit a dry, bitter taste. They need to be fully ripe before eating so their sweetness can overtake the tannins.

We pick this fruit in Little Orleans, MD at the home orchard of John Popenoe. It's usually best to wait until they are so ripe and sweet that they become difficult to pull off the tree without squashing and cracking them. When you squeeze the golf ball sized fruit they tend to crack and ooze their edible inner pulp. We call it nature's marmalade because they have the same consistency as orange marmalade (fruit jam) and looks almost identical.

When persimmons are ripe they are such a delicacy. It's better to remove the skin and seeds so the bright orange pulp can explode off the palate. It's not unusual to see some of our workers just pop a persimmon and spread it all over their morning toast, no added sugar needed as these are so very sweet already. What a special treat.

Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried or cooked and are commonly used around the world in jellies, drinks, pies, curries and puddings. At Western Maryland Lemonade, we find they also mix extremely well with our basic lemonade formula. This flavor is really special and our supply is usually pretty short.

 


PHOTOS

Native persimmon fruit still on the tree

 

Fresh bottles of our Persimmons Lemonade - a rare delicacy and in limited supply. The orange marmalade like pulp rises to the top. Shake before consuming.