Know Your Persimmons
Persimmon varieties are classed either as pollination-constant, meaning that their flesh remains the same color whether they have seeds or not, or pollination-variant, meaning that they develop brown flesh when seeded. Persimmons are also classed either as astringent, like the Hachiya, or non-astringent, like the Fuyu.
American persimmon (Native persimmon, Diospyros virginiana). Pollination-constant, astringent. A different species from the Oriental persimmon (Diospyros kaki), indigenous to the Eastern United States south of a line from Connecticut to Kansas. Very astringent when unripe; rich, sweet and custardy when soft. Traditionally harvested from small-fruited wild seedlings, used for puddings and baking in the East, where they’re sometimes known as “possum apples.”
Chocolate (Tsurunoko, “Child of a Stork”). Pollination-variant, non-astringent. Medium to small; cylindrical, tapering; skin orange-red; flesh dark brown when seeded, sweet and rich. Midseason. One of the best-known colored-fleshed varieties.
Fuyu (“Wealthy”). Pollination-constant, non-astringent. Medium-large; plump, oblate; skin deep orange to orange-red; flesh light orange; texture a bit softer than the Jiro, not quite as sweet. Season mid-late. Introduced to U.S. in 1910 from Japan, where it originated in Gifu prefecture in 1902. Generic term for non-astringent persimmons.
Giant Fuyu (Hana Fuyu). Pollination-constant, non-astringent. Large; round-oblate; skin yellow-orange; flesh dark yellow-orange, more intense around the seed cavities; sweet and juicy, softens soon after harvest. Originated in Korea or China, introduced to the U.S. in 1930. Sold mostly at farmers markets.
Hachiya (“Beekeeper”). Pollination-constant, astringent. Large; acorn-shaped; skin deep orange-red, thin and almost transparent; flesh deep yellow-orange to golden orange, of custard-like consistency, and honeyed sweetness. Leading variety in California for many years, second after the Jiro today. Originated long ago in Mino province, Japan.
Hyakume (name is an old Japanese unit of weight equivalent to 5/6 of a pound). Pollination-variant, non-astringent. Medium to large; roundish; skin buff-yellow to orange, often with fine russet lines around the apex; when seeded and flesh dark cinnamon, considered the best in flavor; unseeded fruits are yellow-fleshed and astringent unless treated or allowed to soften. Midseason. Ancient Japanese variety, once widely grown in California.
Jiro (name of a man). Pollination-constant, non-astringent. Large; oblate, flatter and squarer than a true Fuyu; skin deep orange to orange-red, with four shallow incised lines that appear on the sides; flesh light orange; texture crisp to tender and juicy, depending on maturity; sweet. Midseason. Originated in Shizuoka province, Japan about 1844; introduced to the U.S. before 1918, already being called Fuyu by the 1920s. The leading persimmon variety in California.
Maru (“round”). Pollination-variant, non-astringent. Small; round; skin dark orange-red; flesh dark cinnamon when seeded, sweet and rich. Maru is used as a suffix for several variety names, such as Zengi Maru, Daidai Maru, so the name Maru should properly be used as a type rather than a variety.
Tamopan (“large grindstone”). Pollination-constant, astringent. Large; flat, with a constriction around the middle, giving it an unusual appearance; skin thick, tough, reddish orange; flesh light orange, very juicy, but not rich. Late season. Introduced from China in 1905 by agricultural explorer Frank Meyer.
Triumph (Sharon Fruit). Pollination-constant, astringent. Medium; flat; skin orange red; flesh deep orange. Grown in Israel, imported to much of the U.S.; looks and tastes like a Fuyu but is treated with carbon dioxide to remove astringency. Late season.