Food: The Only Time You Should Be Picking Persimmons

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Persimmons come in a number of varieties, and before you eat one, you want to know which kind you have. That's because they ripen very differently, and eating the wrong kind at the wrong time can be quite unpleasant, indeed. When it comes to store-bought persimmons, you're most likely to find two kinds according to Treehugger: hachiya and fuyu. Both varieties originated in Asia, though they're now grown in the U.S. as well.

ripe fuyu persimmons © Edu LYRA FOTO E VIDEO/Shutterstock ripe fuyu persimmons

It's easy to tell the difference between hachiya and fuyu persimmons. Boston Organics explains that hachiya persimmons are acorn-shaped, and elongated like a plum or Roma tomato. Fuyu persimmons are rounder, shaped more like a beefsteak tomato. Both can range in color from golden to deep red-orange. The biggest difference between the persimmon varieties is that the hachiya variety is exceedingly astringent and shouldn't be eaten until it's very ripe, when it feels like a water balloon or overripe tomato. The fuyu persimmon is far less astringent and can be harvested and eaten when it's firmer.

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But, there is another variety of persimmon, one that's native to the U.S., and knowing when to harvest it is very important.

When Should You Pick American Persimmons?

wild persimmons on a tree © Jimmy Tran/Shutterstock wild persimmons on a tree

American persimmons are an entirely different variety from those you find in stores. These wild fruits -- with the Latin name "Diospyros virginiana," -- grow along the East Coast, mostly in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, according to Wild Plant Culture. The fruit ripens late in the season, and you most definitely do not want to eat a wild persimmon before it's ripe. This unripened persimmon is seriously astringent; the kind of stringent that doesn't just make you pucker, but completely strips your mouth of moisture. They're harsh and unpleasant.

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Since it's so important not to eat wild persimmons before they're ripe and even wait until they can be harvested from the ground after they've fallen from the tree, notes Our State. When they're ripe, wild persimmons are very sweet, with a spicy richness that's perfect for autumn. You won't typically find wild persimmons in stores or markets because they're so squishy and sticky when they're fully ripe (per Wild Plant Culture). If you happen upon a wild persimmon tree and spy some of these orange fruits on the ground, bring them home to try in this delicious broiled cheese dip.

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