The Magical Fruit Tree
Question: If you were to plant a fruit tree with the intention of donating the fruit to the needy, what would you plant? My fruit tree must meet most, if not all of these requirements:
High Yield– I’d want a tree with a lot of fruit, year in and year out.
No Work – I wouldn’t want to work hard. It has to be a low maintenance tree (no spray, no pruning, no fuss.)
Squirrels Away – I’d want a tree where I don’t lose a lot of the fruit to the critters, especially the squirrels.
No Dropping Fruit – All fruit eventually falls from the tree for the journey back. However, I’d want the fruit to hang on tenaciously past the “ready to pick” date and not fall on the ground right away.
Long Life – I don’t plan to be around that long but, it would be nice if the tree could live 50 to 75 years.
Beautiful Tree – Since I’d be looking at this tree for years to come, I’d want it to look beautiful year round, especially in the fall.
Nutritious – Finally, I’d want the fruit to be tasty, relatively low in sugar, high in fiber with lots of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants.
Storage – For a bonus point, it would be nice if the fruit would travel well and had a long shelf life.
Season – For an extra bonus point, it would be nice if the fruit would ripen in winter when the season is dominated by citrus.
My list is long, and I hope the picture for this post did not give away the answer.
Drum roll please....
If you have an empty corner in your garden, go plant a Hachiya persimmon (yes, that’s the stringent one) . Water it for two years, then forget about it. It will feed you, your children, your grandchildren and the needy. You may have to learn and teach your kids how to eat Hachiya persimmon, but that is a different story.
Hoshigaki is the Japanese name for massage-dried persimmons. If you have not had Hoshigaki, make sure to add it to your bucket list. Slow Food lists it as an Ark of Taste. One taste of this fruit will make you see the stringent persimmon in a whole new light.
While there are not many places in U.S. that make this delicacy, one of the best sources is in Placer County. Tosh Kuratomi, of Otow Ranch makes some of the best Hoshigaki in the world, and if you can go for a visit in late fall, you will see the work in progress. (address and a slide show here.)
Competing with Tosh is our own Urban Farmers member, Doug Raymond in Orinda. He converts his kitchen to a Hoshigaki-making-bar with some spectacular results. Two years ago, for good reasons, his wife Alma planted a persimmon tree in their backyard. That should keep Doug busy all winter.