What are Texas Persimmons? If you’ve ever lived in Texas, you’ve probably seen them. Let’s learn all about them and make some jam!
My family discovered Texas Persimmon a few years ago when we moved to Texas. We love hiking around and being out in nature together.
We’re always on the lookout for what berries are ripe and it’s so fun to see when the Texas Persimmon berries are just starting to form. It feels like it takes forever for them to ripen but they’re worth the wait!
Watch the video for all the recipes and to see us!
Always Use Caution in the Wild
A quick reminder to always use caution when picking things to eat in the wild.
Do your research and compare videos and pictures before putting anything in your mouth.
Check the shape and color of the fruit, leaves and the seeds, and even check the tree bark texture and color.
Are Texas Persimmons Harmful?
The answer I’ve found is this: They aren’t poisonous but they could be difficult for your body to process properly. They can be harmful if you eat large amounts of under ripe fruit, especially on an empty stomach.
The body also struggles to digest the skin so spit that out.
If you have existing gastric problems, this can be a factor in it too. This is because the problem is the high amounts of a kind of tannin in the persimmons that could coagulate once it mixes with your stomach acid. This could form into a lump that could cause blockage problems in your intestines.
Notice how there’s a lot of “could” in there?
I came across a couple specific examples where someone experienced problems eating persimmons.
One was a graduate student who was hiking, ran out of water, got dehydrated and decided to quench his thirst by eating a bunch of Texas Persimmons.
It made him throw up.
Many of the blogs that caution about Texas Persimmons specifically cite this anecdotal article.
I wasn’t there, but it seems to me that if you’re hiking around in the heat of a Texas summer and you don’t have any water, putting anything in your mouth will probably make you throw up.
Ok, my guy?
Another instance of persimmons causing distress was a lady who ate a whole lot of a giant variety of persimmons (not Texas Persimmons) and had to have surgery because it formed a blockage in her intestines.
If you eat too many mangos you’ll have issues too. Or too much of anything and you’ll have problems.
Everything in moderation, you know?
I’m not scared off by these stories, but it’s always best to check how your body reacts to different things.
Make sure your berries are ripe (completely black and come off the branch easily), just eat a few and see how your stomach feels.
The main point to take away from all of this is:
Gastric problems? Steer clear. Otherwise, eat a normal amount of stuff, like a normal person and you’ll be fine.
If you’re really worried, you can put your mind at ease and boil or cook the persimmons to reduce the tannins.
What Do Texas Persimmon Trees Look Like?
Multiple trunks for each tree give it a very intricate look and it grows in a very similar looking shape to a crape myrtle tree. But the striking bark is what really sets it apart from other trees.
The bark gray, smooth and thin, and it peels away in large patches to reveal lighter shades of gray, white, and sometimes a pinkish color. It’s really pretty!
It’s a hardwood tree and semi-evergreen because, in the more southern areas, it keeps its leaves throughout the winter – like some oak trees.
The leaves are small, oval, leathery, and curl downward on the edges. They look like they grow in clusters and are rounded on the ends. They can be as long as two inches but can be much smaller than that.
They typically grow to about 10-15 feet tall but they can get as big as 35 feet.
Leaves that stay through the winter, beautiful bark, and hardiness make it a great choice for landscaping.
Just keep in mind they make a pretty big mess once they start dropping ripe fruit.
I wouldn’t plant them right over a sidewalk but they do seem to grow wherever they please.
What Do Texas Persimmons Look Like?
The fruit starts out green and slowly turns black when it’s ripe.
Round berries attach to the branch by a leathery calyx.
It kind of looks like a really big, black blueberry to me.
Some blogs say they can be a dark purple color. I haven’t seen that at all. They look black and the inside is such an inky, dark brown that it looks like black at first too.
They can be over an inch in diameter with a slightly fuzzy skin.
They’re usually very fleshy and plump.
It’s very juicy. If you split one open, it’ll stain everything. So your fingernails will be brown after picking them for a while.
The juice was historically used for a dye and still is in some places.
There can be anywhere from 3 to 8 seeds inside but usually around 5.
Where Can I Find Texas Persimmon Trees?
Texas Persimmon, also called Black Persimmon, can be found in Central, West and South Texas. Also parts of Oklahoma and as far south as Mexico.
Because they’re extremely drought tolerant and disease resistant, you’ll find them everywhere: Parks, stony and brushy areas, along sidewalks, in landscaping around businesses, in the shade and full sun, and throughout neighborhoods.
Female trees produce fruit and male trees don’t.
You’ll find ripe fruit in the late summer but it can be anytime from July through the beginning of October.
How Do I Eat Texas Persimmons?
You can eat these berries easily but don’t swallow the skin or the seeds.
To eat them, squeeze the fruit out of the skin into your mouth and enjoy. Then make sure to spit out the seeds when you’re done.
What Do Texas Persimmons Taste Like?
The flavor is hard to pin down. It’s mostly just very sweet and not tart at all. My friend says it reminds her of prunes.
It gives me kind of light melon vibes mixed with fig, and prunes in there too.
The flavor also varies slightly from tree to tree. So make sure you shop around a little to get a good sense of the flavor.
If you’ve tried them, what do you think they taste like?
How to Pick Texas Persimmons?
Gently tug on each fruit that’s completely black. It should easily fall off with almost no effort if it’s ripe. If there’s any kind of resistance, leave it and come back in a day or two.
The fruit is understandably a favorite among wildlife so you’ll have some competition for the ripe fruit if you want to pick it and use it.
There are no spines or thorns, unlike a lot of things growing in Texas, so you don’t have to worry about getting all scratched up when you’re picking the fruit.
To pick, wear clothes and shoes you don’t care about because it gets messy and can stain.
You CAN lay a sheet down and shake the tree. Then pick up the ones that dropped.
This works ok but you do end up splitting a lot of the berries as they splat onto the ground.
The better method is just to pick by hand.
The fruit isn’t usually ripe all at the same time. You’ll notice really ripe fruit and really under-ripe fruit on the same tree.
If you don’t quite have enough to make a favorite recipe, rinse them and throw them in the freezer for up to six months. Then pick more fruit every few days until you have enough. You really could keep picking from the same tree for weeks and weeks.
It’s so cool and fun! Picking is my favorite part!
I usually pick a ton and throw them right in the freezer anyway because I don’t want the pressure of having to use them in the next couple of days. And then they’re easier to mash after they thaw.
Freezing can also help reduce the tannins.
What Can I Use Texas Persimmon In?
They have a pleasant taste on their own but I really like to use them for some delicious comfort food.
On Buttered Toast
Mango Cream Cheese Texas Persimmon Crescents: Mix 3 tablespoons of your persimmon spread with 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1 tablespoon of honey. Then spread cream cheese, the persimmon mixture and mango chunks onto 16 crescents. Top them with a little cinnamon and sugar then bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. These are a really yummy treat! Fluffy and sweet. The persimmon is delightful, the cream cheese brings a richness, and the mango chunks give little fresh bursts of flavor.
**Printable Recipe Down Below!!**
How to Process Texas Persimmon
Rinse your berries and pull out any twigs, leaves or bugs.
I originally put them in a large pot, heated and then mashed everything.
But, I don’t think the heating was actually necessary unless your berries are really firm. If they’re really ripe, they should be so soft it’ll take barely any effort to squish them.
Just throw them in a large bowl or pot and mash the berries really well.
**UPDATE** Ripe fruit are already safe to eat but cooking does help to further reduce the tannins. So you might want to heat them during the processing if you aren’t planning to cook them as part of the recipe you’ll be making with the persimmon juice.
Next you want to put everything through a fine mesh sieve.
You want to strain out all the seeds and skin and discard them. I don’t use a cheesecloth because I want more than the liquid. I want whatever pulp gets through too.
Some of the pulp is stuck right to the seeds so it’ll take a while to get every scrap of of it off the seeds.
Oh my gosh this was such a pain! I just gave up when I couldn’t take it anymore. This takes so much less time and is way less irritating if you don’t care about the pulp stuck right around the seeds.
I’ve heard a food mill is good for this kind of thing. I’ll have to invest in something like that for next year.
Once you’ve got everything strained, strain the juice one more time because there’s usually a seed that made it’s way through somehow.
Now you can use this sweet, thick, tar juice for whatever you want. You can freeze it too or use it right away.
How to Make Texas Persimmon Jam
Start with rinsing 16 cups of berries and mashing them in a big pot with 4 cups of water.
Bring that to a light boil and cook for 5 minutes, then strain them through a fine sieve to get the thick juice again.
Make sure to strain it twice to get any of those escaped seeds!
You should have about 8 cups of juice now. If you have more than 8 cups, boil it until it reduces down.
Better to have a slightly more concentrated flavor than waste some of the juice 🙂
Add 6 cups of sugar to 2 packages of pectin then add that to the 8 cups of juice, plus 4 tablespoons of lemon juice.
Bring to a hard boil and boil for 1 minute.
And that’s it! You made Texas Persimmon jam!
Just like any other jam, the best way to eat it is on a warm piece of buttered toast. That’s hard to beat.
You should get about 7 pints out of this recipe.
It has a really nice taste.
Rich but mild and a little tart.
The lemon does kind of take over the flavor but you need the acid for safety if you want to can the spread using a water bath method (which is the only one I know how to do).
Botulism thrives in a low oxygen, low acid environment. So you need that lemon juice to keep it away.
If you want just the persimmon flavor and you aren’t canning it, you can skip the lemon juice.
How To Preserve My Jam?
Check out my post about Honey Mesquite Beans for my process on canning jams and jelly.
Or check out my video on how to make wild grape jelly.
It’s not as hard as you think it’ll be!
If you don’t want to can the jam, bake something with it or throw it in some airtight containers and keep them in the freezer.
The flavor should stay good for up to a year in the freezer.
Things You Might Need or Want to Try
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*Also, something that I’ve noticed and really stinks: I try and update with new links but it’s just a fact of life that, after a while, the things I link to often aren’t available anymore – especially if it’s been a year or more since I made the post. However, it’s still useful to see the “unavailable” product because you can usually look around and find something very similar on Amazon. This is at least a jumping off point 🙂
Potato Masher – I have an old vintage masher but I think this style would work best to quickly smash berries. I ended up switching to a big piece of wood in a plastic bag because the berries just scoot through my typical potato masher.
Large Pot – Just get something that fits at least 4 jars standing up, with an inch of water above the tops.
Canning Set – this set has all the tools you need to make the jelly. I especially like having the magnet tool, tongs and the jar lifter.
Canning Jars – You can probably find jars for way cheaper if you go to your local grocery store instead but, here’s a link if you can’t find any where you live.
Pectin – also probably cheaper if you buy it at the store.
ladle – a ladle makes filling the jars easier.
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Print the recipe for later!
- 3 tablespoons Texas Persimmon jam
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 packages of pre-made crescent dough
- 1 - 8 oz package cream cheese
- 1 ripe mango - chopped
- Cinnamon and sugar - small amount
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Lay the dough flat on parchment paper.
- Spread a tablespoon of cream cheese on each triangle of dough.
- Spread the persimmon jam on top of the cream cheese.
- Add the mango chunks then roll up each crescent.
- Sprinkle the top of each crescent with cinnamon and sugar.
- Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 15-20 minutes until they're golden brown.
-You might want to get 2 packages of cream cheese just so you don't have to be so exact with how much you're spreading on.
-Check out my post all about Texas Persimmon at goodenoughandstuff.com to learn how to make Texas Persimmon jam!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 15mgSodium: 53mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 2gSugar: 15gProtein: 1g
- 16 cups Texas Persimmon berries
- 4 cups water
- 6 cups sugar
- 2 packages pectin
- 4 tablespoons lemon juice
- Rinse the berries.
- Pour the berries and 4 cups of water into a big pot and mash them.
- Bring to a light boil and cook for 5 minutes.
- Strain everything through a fine mesh sieve and discard all the seeds and skin.
- You should have 8 cups of thick liquid now.
- Rinse your pot then pour your juice back into it.
- In a bowl, mix the sugar and pectin.
- Add the sugar mixture and the lemon juice to the persimmons and mix well.
- Bring to a hard boil and boil for 1 minute.
-After straining out the seeds and skin, if you don't have quite 8 cups, add water until you do. If you have more than 8 cups, lightly boil the juice over low heat until it reduces down to 8 cups.
-This juice is so inky black that even little splatters seem to get everywhere. If you use a big pot with high sides, this helps to contain a lot of the mess.
-If you don't plan on canning your jam and you want the persimmon flavor to come through more, you can leave out the lemon juice
-Check out my post on Mesquite Beans at goodenoughandstuff.com to learn how to can and preserve your jam.
Serving Size:2 tablespoons
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 68Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 18gFiber: 1gSugar: 15gProtein: 0g