On the Hunt for the Elusive Persimmon in Hawai‘i
Persimmon season is almost over. Here’s how to get the Maui-grown fruit fresh, while you still can.
Photo: Courtesy of Matsui Farms
When persimmons show up in the market, it’s a sure sign that fall has come to Hawai‘i. And some of the freshest fruit in the Islands grows on Upcountry Maui farms.
That’s because the yellow-to-rust-orange-colored globes do best in chilly weather. The Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation says some Kula persimmons get shipped to O‘ahu and are sold at local markets.
So we went on a hunt. (“We’re going on a fruit hunt, we’re going to catch some sweet ones …”) But the only fruit we were certain was fresh and local came from a friend who flies to Maui regularly on business and brought us back a box she bought from the Hashimoto family.
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The fresh fruit are prized for that honey-sweet flavor. But the season in Hawai‘i lasts only from around September to sometimes December, says Jackie Hashimoto, of Hashimoto Persimmon Products. She says this season started late and is wrapping up soon. “It’s a short season, very intense,” she says. Members of her husband’s family planted some of their persimmon trees 90 years ago and they’re still producing.
She told us that she and husband Clark “used to have a guy who sold the fruit at the Saturday morning market at Kapi‘olani Community College,” but he retired. She says some folks from O‘ahu make a day of it by flying over, trekking to their farm, then Ali‘i Kula Lavender farm and T. Komoda bakery before returning home.
Some farmers grow in Waimea on the Big Island but we couldn’t find any shipped to Honolulu this year.
Over at the Hawai‘i Farm Bureau Federation, Megan Kono, farmers market general manager, says she’s talked to folks who say they are selling local fruit but she hasn’t been able to confirm any this season.
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Mel Matsui, who also farms in Kula, told us that he sends 7.5-pound boxes (which sell for $25 apiece in person) to O‘ahu via FedEx for $13 to cover shipping. But his season wrapped up over the Thanksgiving weekend and he posted a thanks-and-see-you-next-year message online.
There are still persimmons for sale but probably not local. If you’re planning ahead for next season, the Matsuis and Hashimotos advise you begin checking in September.
Read more stories by Robbie Dingeman