Persimmons-similar to how most of our fruit and vegetables used to be- are around for a limited period of time, never seen in the grocery stores out of season, and need to be processed and preserved fairly quickly to be used after their harvest time. Native to the southeastern US, persimmon production in Indiana is mostly in the southern part of the state. Occasionally found in some home fruit gardens, persimmons are most often either eaten fresh or made into a pudding. To read about a grower who is trying to establish commercial production of persimmons, read this great blog post on My Indiana Home.
Persimmons can be round or oval, resembling plums, with an orange waxy skin. Once persimmons are fully ripe, they have a sweet and delectable flavor, but are otherwise pungent and sharp if tasted before fully mature. As with other fruits such as apples, there is not just one common persimmon but many varieties, such as Even Golden, John Rick, Woolbright, Miller, Killen, and Ennis. View this Richard Hayden report from Purdue Extension Service to learn more about cultivation and varieties of persimmons.
The persimmons you find in the grocery store are not likely the same variety as what you’ll find at the farmers market. Commercially, the variety that is produced in southern California is called the Oriental persimmon, and is not hardy to cold weather. Don’t worry about the ones grown here, however, unless we have a winter even worse than last year. The persimmon producing trees in Indiana can survive temperatures down to 25 degrees below zero without significant injury.