Posted by: cassymuronaka | December 31, 2009

Fuyus 4 U

The season is almost over, but every year at this time we hear from people who have not uttered a peep to by email or telephone during the rest of the year. It is not the swelling feeling of holiday goodwill that motivates this sudden outreach, but the annual harvest of our Japanese persimmon tree.

Some of these people unexpectedly drop by because they “happen to be in the neighborhood.” Others, like my son’s third grade elementary school teacher (he’s almost 20 now), simply pick up the phone and boldly demand to know if the persimmons have ripened yet.

The Fuyu persimmon is only briefly found in local supermarket chains during October and November, if at all. It usually is obtained by visiting an Asian market or by being Japanese and knowing someone with a tree. The Fuyu has different characteristics than the soft and squishy, more commonly found Hachiya. Think of the Fuyu as a flatter, brighter, orange apple, only with less water content.

My dogs, who knock each other over each year trying to get to dropping fruit, would, if they could, attest to the fact that the tree in our backyard is a particularly good one. This explains the equally shameless human behavior that occurs during Fuyu season.

This year was a pretty bad year for the supermarket persimmons. They were pale, small, and covered with brown spots. Our fruit was double in size, and its color so vivid that it practically glowed orange in the dark. When you polished one of our Fuyus on the side of your shirt, it shined up so well that it looked like it had been given two coats of lacquer.

Our tree was raised with great love, which may be why it thrives and towers above other persimmon trees more than four decades after it was planted. My Japanese-American husband has spent the better part of his life tending to the tree, because he was raised in the house in which we live. It was his dad who planted the tree and who waited patiently several years for fruit to appear. Unfortunately, my husband’s father died swiftly of cancer at too young of an age. However, before he passed away, the tree produced one perfect Fuyu persimmon, which he was able to enjoy.

The nurturing of the persimmon tree has paid off because this tree, which is supposed to offer a good harvest every other year, annually explodes with fruit. It is a very, very happy tree.

The neighbors are happy, too. Our family always lets the branches dangle over the wall and into the yard of whoever lives in the house next door, if they are fans of the fruit. That has proved to be a boon for us in the last couple of years. The current neighbor works part-time at a bakery and right now my kitchen is overflowing with bread and breakfast goods.

The bulk of the tree’s fruit always is claimed by my mother-in-law. She and my husband deliver or mail boxes of persimmons to friends and relatives whose engines start revving around October 1st.

While the family usually has been able to protect the most of the persimmons from hungry possums and raccoons, such is not always the case with Homo sapiens. We have stopped telling anyone that it is okay to let themselves in the back yard to “pick as much as you want.” The aforementioned elementary school teacher and an equally enthusiastic pool serviceman each single-handedly stripped the tree of most of its fruit on different years — at least as far as they could claw without aid of a ladder — leaving us with slack jaws upon returning home. Persimmons now are personally and carefully doled out.

But the enjoyment of the tree really is sharing its fruit to those who most savor it. Neither my husband, son nor I are huge consumers of the Fuyus, although I am always looking for ways to involve them in recipes. I generally save my unrestrained greed for the four dwarf Satsuma tangerine trees that blossom just slightly later than the persimmon tree.

Our last delivery of the season was Sunday night. We drove half an hour to Ontario to bring fruit to friends from Utah who were barreling down Interstate 15 towards San Diego in late afternoon. One of them had lived for two years in Japan and good Fuyus apparently nearly bring tears to his eyes.

And because they are friends, I managed to man-up and pry some Satsumas out of my personal stash, adding them in with the persimmons.

After encountering a surprising lack of holiday traffic, like a couple of spies in the night we passed off the two boxes of fruit in the darkened parking lot at a strip mall in which a Japanese restaurant was strategically located at dinnertime.

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Responses

  1. Wonderful story…thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Myra.

  2. Ah ha! The secret is now out! I am marking Oct/Fuyu/Cassy on my computer calendar!

  3. Lovely story! And lovely persimmons! SPECTACULAR!

    • It was fun to write!


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