How to eat: put the knife away, lay down the newspaper.
Peel the skin tenderly, not to tear the meat.
Chew on the skin, suck it,
and swallow. Now, eat
the meat of the fruit,
so sweet, all of it, to the heart. . . .
Some things never leave a person:
scent of the hair of one you love,
the texture of persimmons,
in your palm, the ripe weight.
—Excerpted from Persimmons by Li-Young Lee
Deep orange, glossy persimmons are ripening in Kula orchards now through December. Take a scenic drive up to Hashimoto Farms, where you can see the wooden braces holding up tree limbs laden with brilliant autumnal fruits. Known in Hawai‘i as kaki, persimmons were cultivated by Maui’s early Japanese farmers and continue to be harvested at a handful of family farms.
Each fall, a caravan of fruit lovers heads Upcountry for three varieties of kaki: Fuyu (most common), Maru (sweetest), and Hachiya (high in tannins and cured before eaten). Some prefer their persimmons custard-soft; others like to eat them still crunchy. The small brown flecks on the flesh of the Maru variety—sometimes mistaken for bruises—are actually pockets of sugar responsible for the fruit’s characteristic sweetness. In the early days, farmers cured the more astringent, mouth-puckering varieties (such as Hachiya) by dropping a bit of gin or whiskey into the fruit’s crown and sealing it airtight for a week. Nowadays, dry-ice baths produce the artificial frost necessary for cutting the fruit’s tartness. Growing persimmons is a labor of love, as the brittle trees require year-round maintenance. Alongside fresh Marus, Hashimoto farm sells dried fruits, jams, and cookies. Highly susceptible to fruit flies, persimmons can’t be exported from the state—so you’ll simply have to enjoy your sweet Maui kaki here and now.
Hashimoto Persimmon Farm, 1378 Pulehuiki Road, Kula, HI 96790, (808) 878-1461