Persimmons are still unknown to most people around the world, especially so here in the US, but oddly enough, persimmons are actually native to the eastern US.  The American persimmons can be found from Connecticut to Florida, and all the way westward to Texas and Kansas.    The trees are actually much hardier than the more common Oriental varieties.  American persimmons can tolerate -20 F, whereas their Oriental cousins can only take 0 F.  
    When it comes to buying persimmons from stores, the Oriental ones are the most likely ones you will find, with the Fuyu and Hachiya varieties dominating the market.  The Fuyu is referred to as a nonastringent variety.  It can be eaten while still hard.
    The most common of the astringent varieties is the Hachiya persimmon, and is by far my favorite, but it is a fruit that has left many a mouth puckering.  The fruit must be practically wrinkled, extremely soft to the touch before eating, otherwise, it will be extremely unappealing, leaving your mouth with a puckery, fuzzy feeling.
    When truly ripe, Hachiya persimmons are a true delicacy, high in vitamin A.  Probably their best feature is that they ripen in late fall, early winter, late October, November and December, at a time when all the summer fruits have disappeared.  There seems to be an overabundance of fruit in the early summer months; apricots, peaches, nectarines, grapes, watermelons, plums..., but in the last few months of the year, there just isn't anywhere near as much to choose from, so as a fruitarian, I am very happy to find the first persimmons of the season, and usually buy them by the case when I can.
    Most of the persimmons available in the stores in the US and Canada are grown in California, although they can be grown in many mild winter areas.
    In years to come, I predict that we will see more and more persimmons in the markets, simply because it is such a wonderful fruit that has been  highly underrated.  As more people turn to eating fresh fruits, a desire to try something new almost always occurs and the persimmon seems like a likely candidate.        
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