The persimmons fruit can be tough to recognize thanks to the large variety within its cultivars: some fruits appear round and small like an acorn, while others sprout completely flat or even square. They range in color from light yellow to dark red, tending to darken as they near ripeness. Consuming a persimmon before it is ripe is an extremely distasteful experience, but even if you pick one too soon, it will continue to ripen off of the tree.
Even though the fruits continue to ripen off the tree, you still want to harvest them when they are nearly ripe. Unripe persimmons produce a stinging, bitter taste that will ruin your enjoyment of the fruit. Persimmons tend to turn a dark red or orange when nearing ripeness. The fruit will also start to feel squishy or soft, while it is normally stiff or hard like an apple or orange. Many growers wait until after the first killing frost of the fall or winter to pick their persimmons, to ensure that the fruits are ready to ripen fully.
If you want your persimmons to continue to ripen after you pull them from the tree, take the time to harvest them carefully. Do not simply yank the fruit from the tree; they will not ripen fully and will go bad faster. Instead, slow down and ensure that each persimmon fruit you pick has a small stem attached to the top. If you cannot pull these stems from the tree easily, use sharp pruning shears or scissors to cut the stems from the branches. The stems contain enough nutrients to help the persimmons continue to ripen even when disconnected from the tree.
Helping It Ripen
If you want the persimmons to ripen quickly after harvest, there are a number of steps you can take to help it along its way. Store the fruit in a bag with an equal number of apples at room temperature to help them ripen. Similarly, freezing the fruits overnight and thawing them in the morning will help soften the fruit and remove some of the bitter taste associated with non-ripe persimmons. Keeping persimmons in the refrigerator will stop them from decaying so fast, but will allow the fruits to continue softening.
If you have birds in your area, you will have to fight them off for the ripening persimmons fruits. This is a serious concern if you let the fruit stay on the tree after the first frost; when the fruits come close to ripening, birds swoop in and begin to eat them. If birds are a problem, you can harvest earlier, or cover the tree with protective bird netting.