One of the great signs of fall in these parts is the the persimmon trees. Just as their leaves begin to drop, the fruit reaches its peak color as it nears maturity.
Pictured just before sunset on a recent day, this is a row of five different Asian varieties, all with fruit. The one on the left is ‘Maru,’ then ‘Chocolate’ (only one fruit, not visible in the photo), ‘Tamopan,’ and then the two with really heavy crops this year (barely distinguishable in the most distant part of the photo: ‘Matsumoto Wase’ and ‘Coffecake’ (‘Nishimura Wase’). The latter was previously pictured here just over a year ago–actually, in late August: Like almost all of our fruits, the ‘Coffeecake’ is much later this year than usual.
North San Diego County is a major producer of persimmons, and entire groves can be seen with these reddish orange orbs this time of year. Almost all the commercial production is of ‘Jiro’–like ‘Matsumoto Wase,’ a Fuyu type. I find ‘Jiro’ and its close cousin, ‘Imoto,’ rather bland. ‘Matsumoto Wase’ is, in my opinion a superior non-astringent persimmon. The other varieties mentioned above are all astringent,* meaning they need to be rather soft and fully ripe before they are edible, whereas the non-astringent types are best when they are still a bit firm and even crunchy.
The most famous astringent Asian persimmon is the ‘Hachiya,’ which has to be almost slimy-soft before it can be eaten. They are very much an acquired tast–or, rather, an acquired texture. I like them, and we have one of these trees, too. Many people, however, think they do not like persimmons because all they know is ‘Hachiya.’ (Frankly, I will take a ‘Hachiya’ or another astringent variety, if fully ripe, over a Fuyu type any day, if I had to choose. Fortunately, I don’t have to choose.)
There are also American persimmons, native to eastern North America. I am not aware of these being grown here, and I have never tried one.
* I was just looking back at the catalogue descriptions (which are interesting for their own sake) that are quoted in my previous planting, linked above. The ‘Coffeecake’ is supposedly non-astringent. Not in my experience!!