By Neil Harms
Persimmon drying has been underway at Harms Farms for a couple of weeks.
October and November are the months to dry persimmons. They need to be firm so they can be sliced. The riper persimmons are the sweetest, but if they’re too soft they’re harder to slice and take longer to dry. The whole process is time consuming. Since some of the fruit is at different stages of ripening, you have to judge each individually as you’re picking them.
After picking them, we use a mandoline slicer to make sure each persimmon slice is the same thickness. Slicing usually goes smoothly, but encountering seeds can slow things down. The slices are then placed on the trays of six dehydrators. Once the dehydrator trays are full, they are turned on, and the drying process begins. After four hours the trays are shuffled from top to bottom to make sure the fruit gets completely dried. The drying is done after eight hours.
After cooling, the fruit is taken off the trays and placed into gallon zip-lock bags. If all six dehydrators are full, we can fill about six bags full of slices. As the season progresses, the fruit will get riper and the drying process may take longer than eight hours. We’ll continue the whole process until there is no fruit on the seventeen trees in the orchard.
Dried persimmons are not as common as other types of dried fruit, but people seem to enjoy them just as much. They are a healthy alternative to other processed sugar-infused snacks, and are delicious!