Tasting a Hachiya persimmon before it is ripe is a mistake you’re unlikely to repeat. Oriental persimmon cultivars (Diospyros kaki spp.) Produce either persimmons which are eaten when crispy like apples or else fruit consumed when squishy like gelatin. The Hachiya cultivar falls into the latter category. To say the Hachiya fruit is astringent before ripening doesn’t do justice to the stunning unpleasantness of the contracting effect it has on your mouth. When Hachiyas get so delicate they process gooey, you understand the derivation of their biological title — food of the gods. That’s the time to begin cutting persimmons from your own tree.
Start checking your Hachiya persimmons following Halloween. The fruit of this cultivar generally ripens in November but it might be the early or late half of the month depending on the weather. If the persimmons are pale, firm and appetizing-looking, leave them alone.
Watch for the shade of the persimmons to darken. If the frosty-pale orange shade changes to your darker, richer shade, squeeze a persimmon gently. If the fruit feels just like a little water-balloon, it’s harvest time.
Cut the ripe Hachiya persimmons from the tree using garden clippers or scissors. Make the cuts 1 to 2 inches above the top of the fruit. As you’re snipping along with your dominant hand, hold the persimmon gently in the other so it doesn’t fall into the ground. All persimmons bruise easily but ripe Hachiyas dropped from a height are likely to splatter. After the fruit is detached from the tree, then place it carefully in the basket.
Squeeze each Hachiya before cutting. The fact that many persimmons on the tree are ripe doesn’t mean that all are ripe.