A Passion for Persimmons

Move over, pumpkin! This underrated fall fruit deserves its moment too. Here’s how to harvest, store and use this fruit frequently found in the Ozarks.

By Heather Kane Kohler

Sep 2022

Photo courtesy ShutterstockEnjoy fresh persimmons in your fall baking.

It was last fall when I first discovered a blanket of persimmons on the land at my in-laws’ home in Nixa, Missouri. It was at that moment that I realized how little I knew about this elusive autumn fruit. After seeing the enormous bounty their persimmon tree was offering and learning that you actually harvest the fruit by picking it up off the ground, I was immediately fascinated and had to learn more. Luckily, not only do my in-laws own one of the largest persimmon trees I’ve ever laid eyes on, but my father-in-law, Jim Kohler, happens to be a talented horticulturist. “When we built our house, the persimmon tree was already on the land, and we asked our builder to leave it. They are a native species and we see smaller ones on our trails. Perhaps it’s so large because it has little competition,” Kohler tells me. After the first frost in the fall, the persimmons begin to ripen and fall. “Persimmons only last a few days in the fridge so we use as many as we can right after harvesting,” he explains. His wife, Janice, likes to freeze the pulp to make jam and baked goods like pie and breads. “Many people make persimmon pie instead of pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving,” says Kohler. One thing is for sure, harvesting the persimmons is the easy part. Cooking with them might take a little patience. “My favorite way to enjoy a persimmon will always be right off the ground,” says Kohler.