Wildlife Food – Persimmons

July 29, 2014

PersimmonsA walk through the horse pastures the other day showed me something I didn’t really expect.  It looks like my wild persimmons are going to provide another bumper crop this season!

That’s good news for the deer, of course, but also for pretty much every other living critter roaming the area.  When these things start to come ripe, they become a major food source for birds and beasts (and bugs too).  The coons and foxes will come out of the woodwork to nibble the rich, sweet fruits.  Deer love them, and will munch their way around the bushes until the ground looks like a “fairy circle”.  I’ll know when they’re ripening, because the ground will be covered with purple scat, punctuated with the big, round seeds.

Coming ripe alreadyAnd I like them too.  When I can get to them before the critters, which is always a race, I like to eat them right off the bush.  I’ve done a little reading on things to do with the fruit, including jams, preserves and even wine… but it’s tough to find enough ripe ones that the animals or birds haven’t already sampled.

These are a native persimmon, by the way, unlike the big, orange ones you find across the country.  When ripe, this fruit will be a dark, purplish black, and they’re smaller than golf balls.  Still, the flavor and consistency is pretty similar to the Asian variety.  And if you eat one before it’s ripe, you’ll get that same astringent bitterness that will turn your mouth inside out.

Deer season is still a couple of months out, and I doubt there’ll be too many fruits left by then.  But every bush on the Hillside Manor is loaded like this, so as long as they last, I expect the deer are going to be getting fat and happy.


6 Responses to “Wildlife Food – Persimmons”

  1. JAC on July 31st, 2014 17:52

    Hi Phillip: Have you gotten any rain? The monsoon has been almost a complete bust here in Phoenix. We don’t have persimmons, we have pomegranates, and they are in rough shape, though the mockingbirds are still punching hopeful holes in them, so maybe they are ripening.

    Hope to see you, Kat, Iggy and the garden soon.

  2. Phillip on July 31st, 2014 23:27

    Heya, John.

    We’ve actually had a decent amount of rain. Certainly hasn’t been a drought-buster, but it’s helped to keep stuff growing (hence the persimmons). The agarita was also a bumper crop this year, although Kat’s first effort at harvesting these little berries wasn’t exactly a smashing success. We’ll have another go next year.

    We’ve had limited success with the garden. Hornworms are quick to decimate the tomatoes, but we’re still getting a few cherry tomatoes and the big ones are trying their best. Peppers are coming on too. Neither of us is exactly the “green thumb” type, but we’re making do.

    As always, you’re welcome to visit Hillside Manor at any time. We’d love to have you.

  3. JAC on August 1st, 2014 20:29

    I sure am fond of the Manor, thanks!

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it but the axis and aoudad I took with your friends over at Boiling Springs Ranch are delicious. Your yogurt seasoning tip was outstanding. I’m wending my way through my elk at twice my prior speed so I can get to the Texas animals.

    Let me know how CO goes for you. That’s coming up right? I have an elk tag (cow) which I’m trying to decide if I should use. My unit is up near Flagstaff in utterly magnificent country. We can always put something together here in October if you are in the spirit.

    Sorry to hear about the first year garden. It takes a while to get the feel for your soil. But maybe it’s best to pay no attention to me, my fourteen year old garden was more a less a failure this year. I didn’t even get tomato hornworms which is too bad because I had resolved to let at least a couple live. There are not too many sights as strange and wonderful as a 4″ moth that looks like a little owl.

    Oh, and the tomato that I sent seeds from last year sent up a volunteer way after tomato season here. It’s so young and resilient I expect it to survive to fruit out in late September when we retreat from Venusesque temperatures. If it does, we’ll give it another go in Texas.

  4. Phillip on August 3rd, 2014 08:55

    They are some tasty critters, no doubt. It’s been a while since I had elk, so I’m hoping to refill the freezer in September. Of course, it’s a bow hunt, so the odds are a little lower for success… but once you’ve sat at full draw with a fired up bull bugling in your face at 9 yards, it’s hard to get as excited about shooting one at 200 yards with a rifle.

    We’re not taking it too hard about the garden. We’re getting some cherry tomatoes, and the peppers are coming on strong. The basil is practically taking over. So it’s not a total loss. And it’s been a learning experience for Kat, so next year promises to be much better. It’ll be great if that volunteer from your garden provides some viable seeds that we can plant next year.

  5. Chad Love on August 7th, 2014 09:37

    No wild persimmons, but here it’s the sandplums. Depending on late freezes, we get a bumper crop every other year or so. This was a bumper crop year. Tart little bastards that go from green to over-ripe mush in about one day, but when you catch them right they make the best jelly you’ve ever tasted. We’ve been making jelly like mad the past couple weeks…

  6. Phillip on August 7th, 2014 22:25

    The persimmons are coming ripe now. There’s purple scat on every rock (and there are LOTS of rocks here). Time to start gathering.

    We have some wild plums around here, Chad, but I haven’t found them on my place yet. From what I’ve heard, they sound a lot like your sandplums. We’re also supposed to have a native, wild grape… the mustang grape, but I haven’t found those yet either.

    Give it time, I guess.