Picture of single persimmon on a branch - backlit

Judging Persimmon Ripeness: 5 Criteria

by Mike Krebill

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Picture of branch with persimmons
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This technique for judging the ripeness of Diospyros virginiana, our native American persimmon, was sent in by Mike Krebill of Iowa (2011). It is based on many taste tests. He is both the author and photographer for this piece.

1. The persimmon must be on the ground, or easily shaken from the tree.

2. The persimmon must not be attached to a broken twig.

3. The persimmon must feel soft and look wrinkled.

4. The stiff, dark brown calyx, if still attached, will twist off with hardly any resistance.

5. If tasted, the persimmon will taste sweet, with no bitter or puckery aftertaste.


1.  The persimmon must be on the ground, or easily shaken from the tree.


A common misconception is that the orange, smooth skinned, perfect-looking fruits hanging on the tree are ripe. Not so! Try tasting one! When persimmons are fully ripe, they become soft and wrinkled and drop to the ground, or they are easily shaken from the tree. That’s how the ones on the right were gathered.
Photo of harvest of common or American persimmons in a clear plastic shoebox.  Photographer is Mike Krebill (Iowa).

2.  The persimmon must not be attached to a broken twig.


These five persimmons, found on the ground as a result of strong winds, were still tightly attached to twigs. They had an unpleasant taste. Fully ripe persimmons do not cling to the twig.
Photo of common or American persimmonf still attached to twigs found on the ground. Photographer is Mike Krebill (Iowa).

3.  The persimmon must feel soft and look wrinkled.


On the ground, not attached to a twig, soft and wrinkled: this persimmon meets the first three criteria for ripeness.
Photo of soft and wrinkled common, or American persimmon.  These conditions help signify ripeness.  Photographer is Mike Krebill (Iowa).

4.  The stiff, dark brown calyx, if still attached, will twist off with hardly any resistance.


Here, the stiff, four to five-parted brown calyx is facing you. The calyx is formed of partially united sepals that originally covered the flower bud. Hold the orange fruit with the fingers of one hand. Use the fingers of the other hand to gently twist the calyx, as if trying to unscrew it from the fruit. If it easily twists off, the persimmon is ripe and will have a good taste, with no unpleasant aftertaste.
Photo showing the calices of three common, or American persimmons.  Each calyx is stiff but will twist easily off of ripe persimmons.  Photographer is Mike Krebill (Iowa).

5.  If tasted, the persimmon will taste sweet, with no bitter or puckery aftertaste.


The calyx was easy to twist off this persimmon. Since it met the first four criteria, it is worth harvesting. There’s no need to resort to step five... unless you are hungry!
Photo showing the calyx twisted off of a common, or American persimmon.  This fruit has passed all five criteria for judging a ripe persimmon and should be good to eat.  Photographer is Mike Krebill (Iowa).