The persimmon is native to China where it has been cultivated for centuries; more than 2,000 cultivars exist today. The plant was not introduced to California until the mid-1800s. Today California, Florida and southeastern Texas produce persimmons for the commercial market with prospects of increasing the fruit’s popularity in this country. However, for now China produces two-thirds of the world’s persimmon crop.
The persimmon, sometimes called the “Apple of Japan,” is widely used in East Asian countries in all sorts of dishes.
Two varieties of persimmons, opposite ends of flavor extremes, are grown in the United States. One is sweet and tender while the other is firm and tannic, bitter when harvested but creamy and sweet when ripe. That’s the type Krista Gustafson recently revisited on the family pumpkin farm at North once known as Belmont Berry Farm. It’s also the type this writer remembers as a child when visiting her grandfather’s farm Waverley and biting into a persimmon th...
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