Texas Persimmon

Texas Persimmon (Diospyros texana, Mexican Persimmon, Chapote ) is a very common shrub or tree here in Central, West, and South Texas. It can be found growing in thickets or mixed in with other trees in woodlands. It is very easy to spot with its smooth gray trunks and branches. There are male and female trees so there will only be fruit on the female trees. This makes finding fruit more challenging since you can’t assume that each tree will have fruit. Instead you have to wander around looking for the black fruit on the trees. Even then you will find only a few ripe fruit among the many green fruit. If you find a small tree you can pull off the fruit by hand. If the branches are too high or thick to bend down, you can put down a tarp and shake the branch. I tried shaking the branches without a tarp but I couldn’t spot the black fruit once they fell on the ground. You will probably prefer to wear gloves when picking this fruit because if it is very ripe it will squish in your hands leaving a dark stain on your hands. It has been used as a black dye, some even using it in their hair. My neighbor has a Texas persimmon tree extending over his sidewalk which creates a huge mess each summer. His mess is my bonanza. Each fruit has several large seeds with a little pulp. By the way, the fruit is also eaten by birds, javelina, coyotes, raccoons, o’possoms , and skunks. So expect competition!

Since gathering the fruit by hand did not produce enough Mexican persimmons yesterday I decided to look again today. I went to a location I had been told that I might the fruit I sought. I did find the fruit but I walked about 2 miles looking for it. I found that after awhile I could spot the right trees due to their shape and color of leaves. Then I had to find out if there was fruit. Most of the time there was little fruit. But I did find two trees loaded with fruit. Fortunately they were located where I was able to put down my tarp and shake the tree. Of course one gets debris with this method but it is a lot faster than picking one by one. I probably looked like a street person to the people passing by but I knew why I was there even though they didn’t. By the time I had picked up the last fruit it was noon which meant I had been looking for fruit for 3 hours. It was hot and I was thirsty. I did spot lots of agarita bushes for next year, in addition to the Texas persimmon fruit.

After all this effort I wasn’t even sure how the jelly would come out. I was assured  from my searches on-line that the fruit was edible but I had found no recipes for making jelly of Texas persimmons.   After washing and sorting out the fruit that was not soft I had 12 cups of fruit. I placed the fruit in my large kettle and added water. I mashed the fruit, and then brought it to boil for 10 minutes. I then pressed out the juice with my food mill. I then poured that juice into cheese cloth. It certainly was thick. I ended up with 6 cups of juice but I only need 4 cups so I poured out the extra juice. I boiled the juice with lemon juice. I then added the pectin. I added 1/2 teaspoon of margarine to prevent the foam from forming. After once again bringing it to a hard boil I added the sugar. I brought it once more to a hard boil but this time only for 1 minute.

Texas Persimmon Jelly Recipe
9 cups ripe persimmons
2 cups water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 pkg powdered No Sugar-needed pectin
3 cups sugar

Pour jelly into freezer containers. After letting the contents cool freeze the jelly.

Oh, you probably want to know how it tasted. I was pleasantly surprised. It had an unusual flavor but nice. The closest flavor I could identify it with was blackberry jelly. Others who tasted it thought it tasted like plum jelly. The jelly looks like wine in the glass.  I will make this jelly again, especially since I now know where to find plenty of the fruit.

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25 Responses to Texas Persimmon

  1. Adriane Ayres in Greenville, TX says:

    I am really enjoying your site. Being a lifelong wild food forager myself, I feel a sense of kinship when you speak of things like spotting flowers to find the fruits that will come later. I am especially eager to try making mesquite pod jelly. I tried grinding pods into meal but they gummed up my grinder. I’ve been furious watching them go to waste.

    • Adriane-I am pleased that you are enjoying the site. I don’t know too many other wild food foragers (let alone jelly makers) so I am always happy to hear from one. Be sure to test taste the pods before you pick a whole bunch since some taste better than others. I am sure I looked weird going around this field tasting raw pods but it paid off with tasty jelly. By the way, id you try drying the pods at 120 degrees for 6-8 hours in the oven?
      Question, do they have mayapples in your area? That is my next jelly but they don’t grow around here.

  2. Reblogged this on debmcclintock and commented:
    Recipes!

    • Deb-
      Making dye from plants has always fascinated me. I guess my fascination stems from all the different colors on my hands from picking and processing fruit for the jellies. I don’t see that you used dewberries or mulberries for dyeing. I would think the unripe dewberries and mulberries would give different colors than the ripe ones. I am jealous of the photo of all the cactus near the Mexican persimmon tree. I hope someone is utilizing the fruit. Have you used the cochineal bug on the cactus for your dyes?

      • Hi, I use the cactus tuna fruit to dye with, when fermented it gives a nice bright garnet red. It will fade to a dull purple but still holds a color. After a couple of rounds with rattlesnakes in the cactus I’ve given up collected cactus tuna. Our cochineal bugs will give color. It takes time to collect them. I’ve used the dried cochineal bugs from Mexico and South America. They give nice bright reds. Thanks for the recipes! Deb Mc

      • I guess I have been very lucky that I have never run into snakes in my fruit harvesting forays.
        I didn’t know, until you mentioned it, that people fermented fruit for dyeing. Speaking of cochineal, someone gave me a vial of dried cochineal to use in coloring food.

  3. Warren D. Tenney, Spring Branch, Texas says:

    When we had the front 2 acres cleared, I had them save the native Oaks, Elms, Texas Persimmons and Agarita bushes/trees. I’ve tried 5 times without success to make Persimmon jelly. When I saw your recipe on-line I decided to try once again … it worked.
    Thanks.

  4. Warren D. Tenney, Spring Branch, Texas says:

    One additional note: The skins are very “tart” (to say the least) so I cut each fruit in half and squeezed the pulp (and seeds) out into a bowl. I threw away the skins.) From that point, I used your recipe as stated in the article.
    WDT

    • I am envious that you have all that agarita and Texas persimmon. :) I am glad that you were successful this time making the jelly. I wonder if you are letting the fruit get dead ripe since all the ones I have eaten and used for jelly are not tart. They can be even be downright soft when fully ripe. Glad it worked out for you.

  5. Jenn says:

    I have a really simple recipe for persimmon butter. Simply rinse the fruit in a bucket of water, discard any fruit that floats and remove the stems. Place fruit in a medium to large pot (depending on your harvest), add 2 cups of water (you can use other liquids such as cider vinegar or other fruit vinegars but I’ve only tried it with water myself), 1/2 cup of white/brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp clove, 1/4 teaspoon allspice, ** optional ** 1 cup dried (not smoked) hot peppers. Bring to a simmer, reduce until just barely bubbling. Stir frequently. In about 1 – 1 1/2 hours you should notice it has thickened significantly, if you don’t see sheeting on the spoon you may need to cook it a little longer. Put mixture thru a strainer, sieve, press, what-you-have-available, and carefully press the mixture to remove all the goodness from the seeds and pepper pods if you added them. While still hot you can just hot can ‘em and they’ll last about 2 – 3 weeks or if you process them they’ll last for about 6mos – 2 yrs depending on your technique. Voila! a spread for crackers, the “secret” ingredient in your favorite BBQ sauce, a dip for cheese, yum!

    • Jenn-
      Sounds like a delicious recipe. Thank you for your recipe. I prefer to strain before I add the ingredients. I also prefer to freeze my butters (and jellies and jams too). I no longer do a hot canning since it is not recommended anymore. A hot bath now is the recommended process if you don’t freeze it. One other idea, use a crockpot to do the cooking. Takes longer but you will not have to be constantly watching it and trying to keep it from bubbling out over the stove. Thanks for writing.

  6. cindy munson says:

    I run an out door musuem in Gonzales Texas and we have lots of Texas Persimmon trees. I’ve been trying to save them from the over growth of under brush that is killing them. We had so much fruit last year and I never had time to try and make jellie but this year I will after reading your recipe.
    Most of our trees are low so the picking is easy. I would grab a handfull every time I walk up the trail to open or close. Come visit and I’ll be glad to send some home with you to make jellie. I’ll even help you pick them.

    • The Texas Persimmon certainly makes a jelly unlike any others in appearance or taste. If you run out of time to make it you can always pick it and freeze the fruit as is and then make the jelly when you have more time. That is what I do for most of my jellies. Your pioneer village sounds interesting. We might come over for your cookoff to check it out. I am always looking for bountiful harvests.

  7. Paul says:

    Why do you add so much sugar? I just made jam from Texas Persimmons and didn’t add any sugar. Even without sugar it is cloyingly sweet.

    • Paul-
      Welcome to my site. I am glad you asked the question of about sugar usage in jams and jellies. First, because I use a low sugar pectin in my recipes I use half the amount of sugar found in standard jams and jellies. So while 3 cups of sugar sounds like a lot it is less than the usual amount. Secondly, sugar is used as a preservative. Sugar prevents microbial growth and molds in the jam or jelly. Even the low sugar recipes are more likely to mold than the ones with more sugar. The sugar is there for more than just making it sweet. Hope than answers your question. You will find more information about sugar usage in jams and jellies at https://ag.tennessee.edu/foodscience/Documents/Low%20or%20no%20sugar%20in%20jams,%20jellies%20and%20preserves.pdf

  8. Will says:

    Just made a batch from Hill Country persimmons picked this morning. Thanks for the recipe! Delicious.

  9. Cynthia Brown says:

    Will, I love your site. I’m a way back jelly and jam maker, loving the natural harvest. When I moved to a home in Boerne, I found several japanese persimmon trees, and I found out the hard way which ones were astringent. Anyway, I’ve been putting the totally ripe ones in the freezer until I got about 16 big ones. Thru them in whole into a pot with a bit of water and cooked them down for several hours. Then I fished out the stem ends, pureed the pulp and skins, added lemon juice and honey, and took a taste. pucker mouth. I guess the stem ends still contain enough of the “tannin” that it ruined the whole batch. Even tried straining out just the juice, and it is still awful. I eat them fresh when full ripe by piercing the skin with my teeth and sucking out the pulp. Always fabulous. I am so disgusted with my lazy self, I had to go to bed with an adult beverage. I guess I should have cut the pulp away from the stem end and just put the pulp in the pot. I was dreaming of persimmon butter, pudding, muffins, etc. I wonder if my chickens will even eat this mess without their beaks curling up…
    Cynthia Brown
    Oh, happy to report complete success with Prickly Pear Fruit jelly. What an astonishing color!. Used barbecue tongs to pick even the “thornless” types, ran them over a gas burner to further reduce the prickles, then sliced them in quarters and let them simmer in a bit of water for several hours. Used my emersion blender to puree, then drained thru cheesecloth. I use Paloma’s Universal Pectin from Whole Foods or Central Market. For 4 cups of juice I only used 1 c. of agave nectar, 1/4 c. lime juice, and a jigger of tequila. It’s a beautiful thing!

    • Cynthia- Glad you love my site. It is great to meet a fellow jelly-maker from way back. As they say what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger so maybe what doesn’t work in jellymaking makes us wiser. The drinking an adult beverage sounds like the solution to dealing with our temporary setbacks. :) As far as Prickly Pear Fruit jelly I found you addition of a jigger of tequila interesting. I prefer to use newspaper to remove all the prickles, like polishing them. Don’t have to worry about the torch. I will have to add your jigger of tequila to my next batch. Have you found any other fruits in Bourne that I haven’t covered?

  10. mrsawc says:

    Oh my…I am so glad to have found this site!
    We have Texas persimmon trees and prickly pear cacti everywhere on our little 140 acre ranch. We also have a lot of agarita.
    As of late, we have been harvesting the persimmons and freezing in zipllock bags as we go on our evening walks, we are easily able to gather 2-3 lbs each evening. I’m planning to make jelly and might try to find a recipe for Texas persimmon wine!
    But now that the prickly pear fruit is turning red, I’m excited but I’m afraid the freezer is going to run out of room!
    Anyone have an easy wine recipe?

    Many thanks in advance. :)

    • I am glad you found our site too. Next year as you look at the agarita fruit keep your eye out for a yellow fruited agarita and let me know if you have any. I know what you mean about running out of room in the freezer. I am planning to pick prickly pear but the freezer is already full. What a dilemma. I may have to throw out all the stuff my wife has frozen. :) If you haven’t already, cook and juice the persimmons you have which will free up space. The best Texas wine making site is that of Jack Keller and his recipe for prickly pear wine is at http://winemaking.jackkeller.net/prickly.asp Enjoy.

      • mrsawc says:

        Thanks for the reply!
        I will keep.an eye out next spring for a yellow agarita. ..didnt come across any this year but um.positive I didnt see all of them…I have to cut away a lot of the plants (blasphemy) because they become so over taking.
        I will definitely check out the prickly pear wine…im so excited to try it.
        In your opinion…what is the easiest way to remove the glochoids from the prickly.pear fruit…ive heard boiling them off…burning them.off..scrubbing them.off etc….suggestions?

        Many thanks!!

  11. When I harvest the fruit I wear my leather work gloves and have a wad of newspaper in my hand. I rub the newspaper all around the fruit as if I were polishing the fruit., In this manner I remove any spines or glochoids before I drop the fruit into the bucket. I also don’t get any glochoids in my fingers by this method. Works for me.

    • mrsawc says:

      I’m going to have to try that..a lot of the fruit are becoming red…do they need to be a dark red?
      And yes, this happens to be MY first rodeo. :)

  12. Nothing wrong with first rodeos. Dark red is great but other reds can be used or mixed with dark reds. Look at my pictures on my pages of cactus jelly recipes if you are not sure what is considered ripe.

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