How to Make Dried Persimmons
I just hate seeing fruit drop and rot, mostly wasted. Well, the crows get some and it attracts coyotes and that’s a bad plan for Tigger.
You’ll need a food dehydrator. I use the Excalibur Food Dehydrator @AMAZON which has 9 trays totalling 15 square feet of drying area. The first Excalibur dehydrator that I bought is still going strong after 20 years of use! First rate dryer, don’t mess around with cheaper and/or smaller ones.
Works great for dried fruit, dried kale, beef jerky, rabbit brains, just about anything.
I strongly recommend the larger dryer because prep and cleanup don’t change much with the half-height models. And if you have the prolific fruit production of a persimmon tree, you’ll need the drying area. I actually have two dryers (30 square feet total) so I can make one large batch, perhaps 50 pounds of fruit at a time (25 pounds in each dryer). And in a light-crop year, I do that twice (about 100 pounds of fruit). In a heavy-bearing year (every other year), it’s too much (250 pounds or so), so a lot of it drops and rots. We’re talking 3 or 4 wheelbarrows full! It’s too much time and effort and way more than I can eat.
1. Wash and prep
Choose your fruit, just about anything works, firm or sloppy. Here I am drying Fuyu persimmons from my trees that I planted 29 years ago. Rinse the fruit. Any with bird scat I discard to avoid contamination.
2. Slice and soak
Slice off the top and bottom of the persimmon, as the skin is pretty tough and you don’t want the stuff on top or the skin on the bottom. You can peel all the skin off (nice), but that roughly triples the prep time required, so I just dry with skin. Slice about about 1/4 inch thick, which means 3 slices for a small persimmon and 4 slices for a large one. Thinner and you need a lot more batches; too much time. Thicker becomes troublesome because you end up with too much variation (eg two thick slices and one thin).
Dip the persimmons in lemon juice. Except for acidic fruits, always dip in lemon juice. It adds a nice taste, but mainly it is critical so that the color of the result is bright and fresh and not brown from oxidation. While a quick dip will do, soaking lets more lemon flavor in, which is a nice subtle accent. Use a very large stainless steel* or ceramic bowl and several quarts of lemon juice (you'll need an orange juicer @AMAZON), fresh-squeezed, unless you want inferior flavor. If you are short on lemons, mix with orange juice or lime juice.
* Lemon juice in aluminum or iron or any metal that can corrode means metal contamination.
3. Lay out on drying trays
It’s not necessary to soak in lemon juice, a quick dip will do, but
4. Dry for ~24 hours
Dry for about 24 hours at 135°F. Time will vary depending on thickness; check at ~20 hours.
Dry enough so that moisture is largely gone and thus the dried fruit will keep well, but not so dry that things get crackly (unless they’re for backpacking I suppose). Consume whole, skin and all.
Final drying ratio in this size dryer reduces 15 square feet and about 24 pounds of persimmons (10880 grams) to about 1560 grams (average of two dryer loads) for a reduction of about 7:1 in weight.