Puckery, Perfect, or Preserved: Exploring Persimmons Fresh & Dried – MS/HS Lesson (PDF Download)

Posted on Categories Blog, Cooking & Preservation, Home, Plant Profiles, Plants, Recipes, School Orchards & CurriculumTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
How-to Hoshigaki guide available through POP’s resource and curriculum pages. Requires peeling, patience, and frequent massages!

It is no wonder that persimmon’s Latin genus name “Diospyros” translates as “food of the gods” for the fruit’s divine, sweet flavor. The fall-ripening fruit of persimmon trees are rich and jammy and its honeyed flavor can be exquisitely sweet on the palette when given the proper ripening time on or off the tree — and especially after a quick flash of frost. But variety or hasty harvester beware, for unripe persimmon fruit is also known for its astringency, inciting an unpleasant pucker on the palette.  This sensation is due the presence of tannins — a class of plant-protective phenolic compounds appearing in foods like tea, rhubarb, coffee, and chocolate — that bind to the proteins in saliva creating a tense, drying mouthfeel.  For this reason, reviews of the fruit from the unaware can be somewhat mixed! 

Still, persimmons are one of POP’s favorite fruits to plant in our community orchards — especially school orchards — due to their hardiness, resilience against pest & disease (of which there are very few!), and their ability to provide a late-fall harvest, which is a plus once the apple season wraps up and the summer’s berries and stone fruits are but a mere, sunny memory.  Persimmons rate as one of the easiest to grow fruit in our climate and when properly harvested, they are truly delicious! 

(Read more about Asian persimmons and the native American persimmon here).  

Richard Allen Preparatory sixth-graders watch footage of persimmon processing in Japan. Video linked in the downloadable lesson plan.

So — who better to test the ‘simmons with than two groups of incredibly talented, sometimes-adventurous, sometimes-hesitant Richard Allen Preparatory Charter School middle-schoolers, who’ve been working hard all year-long in designing and expanding their school garden, orchard, and palettes along with Jenny Dunker of Greener Partners?

Greener Partners’ Jenny Dunker and POP’s Education Director Alyssa Schimmel scope the fruit set on the school’s persimmon tree during the early fall.

We piloted this persimmon lesson (PDF download here) with 6th and 8th graders at the school, where they have a huge, healthy ‘Nikita’s Gift’ persimmon tree that was loaded with fruit in the summer. Most of the fruit had been harvested prior to our lesson (hopefully by community members — not squirrels!) but we called in backup, picking up flats of Asian persimmons for $6-8 from an Asian grocery store, and harvesting the native American persimmon from the grounds of the Woodlands that were shaken down from the trees’ tall branches during a community gleaning event.

Students begin the process by delicately peeling the persimmons’ outer skin.

We began with a taste test of the fruit and a brainstorm of what we might make with it to help extend the harvest, then read about the trees’ growth, care, and nutritional facts on this POP tree PDF info-sheet here, before watching two videos on caring for persimmons and learning to cure them using the Japanese traditional stringing-and-massaging mode of drying called hoshigaki (PDF how-to handout here).

Hoshigaki is a cultural delicacy in Japan, where it is frequently used to make the astringent variety of persimmons, Hachiya, more palatable. After peeling the outer skin and stringing them by the stem to hang in the sun with proper airflow and regular massages every 4-5 days to encourage the moisture and sugar to the surface to bloom (it’s often called the kobe beef of dried fruit!), the fresh, still-firm fruit is transformed in a few weeks into an intensely-flavored, still-tender dried delight that is sugar-blushed, rolled, and stored for up to a month in the fridge, or two months in the freezer.

Repair the World’s Megan Brookens and Jenny Dunker string the fruit to clothing hangers to dry.

Unfortunately, the Hachiya variety wasn’t available at the market — the non-astringent Fuyus being preferred for fresh eating — so we tried with what we had and can report back on this blog and by our social media channels with the results! Stay tuned! Because the Hachiya variety has more protective tannins, it’s said they are ideal for this method of drying, whereas the Fuyus which are higher in sugar can draw bugs and possibly develop mold, if too moist. In that case, the fruit after peeling can be flash-boiled for 10 seconds or sprayed with alcohol that can help sanitize the surface.

NOTE: Discard any hoshigaki that form greenish mold due to excessive moisture.  DO NOT CONSUME!  Again, the white bloom that forms naturally through this process is just crystallized sugars and safe to eat.

So how did the persimmons fare among Richard Allen’s reviewers? The majority of students really enjoyed them-– noting that the tomato-like fruit had buttery, spicy, squashy, and honey-flavors they thought might be delicious in cereal bars, fruit leathers, or breakfast cereal.

Two weeks later, the persimmon fruits are beginning to collapse and dry. Here, the students massage the fruit to break up the still-soft internal fruit flesh.

Educators can consider a range of follow-up activities to complement the lesson including in-class experiments on techniques for improving the sweetness of fruit by adjusting harvest time, refrigerating or freezing; exploring methods of reducing astringency by soaking, souring, etc; other culinary and recipe experiments like making persimmon breads or butters; and history extensions, conducting research on hoshigaki and other persimmon-based traditional foodways from around the world.

Jenny Dunker’s Feedback on the Lesson: “The persimmon lesson was excellent for my 6th and 8th grade students. They were drawn in to the subject through a thoughtful exploration of flavor and texture, making them eager to learn more about these fascinating trees. POP educators kept students engaged through a combination of hands on projects and multimedia. Students were excited to explore the development of the trees and fruit, propagation methods, and cultural practices surrounding the persimmon, even participating in a fruit preservation experiment! This lesson engages learners through a discovery-based exploration, broadening their tastes and providing a deeper appreciation for the trees right outside their school.”

This POP Blog Post and Curriculum Materials were written by Education Director Alyssa Schimmel with assistance from Repair the World fellow Megan Brookens.

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate

PLANT SPOTLIGHT: Persimmon (Diospyros)

Posted on Categories Blog, Canning, Cooking & Preservation, Harvesting, Home, Orchard Care, Plant Profiles, Plants, POPharvests, Propagation, Recipes, Tree Care, Wild EdiblesTags , , , , , , ,

Asian persimmons ripening at Bartram’s Garden in West Philadelphia. Non-astringent varieties can be harvested while still firm.


Asian Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries.  Korea and Japan have also been centers of its cultivation, and it was introduced to California in the mid 1800’s. Asian Persimmons usually grow between 13-20 ft tall and wide and are self-fertile.  At our community orchards, POP usually favors planting non-astringent cultivars such as ‘Fuyu’ and ‘Jiro’.

The native American Persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) is a much larger tree, growing 30-50 ft tall, but with smaller fruit. It is also more cold hardy.  Except for a few self-fertile varieties, American Persimmons require a separate male and female tree for pollination (only female trees bear fruit).  Due to limitations of space required, POP generally only plants native persimmons in larger park settings and favors self-fertile cultivars like ‘Meader’ and ‘Early Golden’.  There are also a few hybrid Asian/American persimmons varieties, including ‘Nikita’s Gift’.

Persimmons belong to the Ebenaceae botanical family, valued for its wood and fruits. Persimmons are usually propagated by grafting scionwood or buds to selected rootstock; seed stratification is also possible. Pollinators of this tree include wild bees, bumblebees, and honeybees.

Persimmons have proved one of the easiest fruits to grow in Philadelphia, with consistent harvests and few pest and disease challenges.


Persimmons are easy to grow with few ongoing care requirements. Asian Persimmons grow in hardiness zones 7-10 and do best in areas that have moderate winters and relatively mild summers. American Persimmons are hardier, adaptable to zones 5-9.

WINTER/SPRING: Late-winter pruning is helpful for shape and rejuvenation, with modified central leader being the most common form. In the spring, non-blooming persimmons may require an application of bonemeal to boost phosphorous.

SUMMER: Water young trees thoroughly once a week during their first year. Persimmons have few pest or disease problems in our region, thus requiring little other attention.

FALL: Persimmons are one of the latest ripening fruits in our orchard spaces. Harvest and process the fruit from October to December depending on the variety. Harvest non-astringent Asian varieties when they are hard, but fully colored (ranging from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red). American and astringent Asian varieties should not be harvested until soft, as fruit picked too early will cause your mouth to feel dry and pucker from the astringency! Sweetness is often improved after the first frost.

Volunteers harvesting American persimmons at The Woodlands in West Philadelphia. Most effective technique was to shake branches and capture fruit on a tarp below.


Before consuming persimmons, please read POP’s edible plant disclaimer below.

Persimmon fruit is a very good source of dietary fiber with 100 g containing about 9.5% of recommended daily intake of soluble and insoluble fiber. Fresh and dried Persimmon fruit also contain healthy amounts of minerals like potassium, manganese (15% of DRI), copper (12% of DRI), and phosphorus. It is moderately high in calories (provides 70 calories/100 g) but very low in fats. Persimmons can be eaten fresh, dried, and cooked. Dried persimmon fruits are popular in Japan and often used in cookies, cakes, muffins, puddings, salads and as a topping in breakfast cereal.


The Philadelphia Orchard Project stresses that you should not consume parts of any wild edible plants, herbs, weeds, trees,​ or bushes until you have verified with your health professional that they are safe for you. As with any new foods that you wish to try, it is best to introduce them slowly into your diet in small amounts.

The information presented on this website is for informational, reference, and educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as a substitute for diagnosis and treatment by a health care professional. Always consult a health care professional or medical doctor when suffering from any health ailment,

disease, illness, or injury, or before attempting any traditional or folk remedies. Keep all plants away from children. As with any natural product, they can be toxic if misused. 

To the best of our knowledge,​ the information contained herein is accurate and we have endeavored to provide sources for any borrowed​ material. Any testimonials on this web site are based on individual results and do not constitute a warranty of safety or guarantee that you will achieve the same results.

Neither the Philadelphia Orchard Project nor its employees, volunteers, or website contributors may be held liable or responsible for any allergy, illness,​ or injurious effect that any person or animal may suffer as a result of reliance on the information contained on this website nor as a result of the ingestion or use of any of the plants mentioned ​herein.

A food mill or strainer can be used to separate persimmon pulp from seeds and skin for use in baked goods, fruit leather, etc.


2 eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup persimmon pulp
1 teaspoon baking soda
Optional: 1/2 cup walnuts, 1/2 cup raisins

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Oil a 9×4 inch pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine flour, cinnamon, salt, nuts, and raisins.
3. In a large bowl, blend eggs, sugar, and oil. Mix baking soda into pulp, and add to bowl. Fold in flour mixture.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan.
5. Bake for 75 minutes, or until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.


Hoshigaki Japanese Dried Persimmons:
https://www.phillyorchards.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/Hoshigaki-PERSIMMON-LESSON.pdfHoshigaki- Japanese Dried Persimmons

Persimmon Fruit Leather:

Harvesting and Processing Pulp for Persimmon Bread, etc:

This POP Blog was written by 2018 Repair the World Fellow Megan Brookens with assistance from Executive Director Phil Forsyth and Admin Assistant Natalie Agoos. 

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.

More Info:


The World of Apples: A Tour of The USDA Apple Collection

Posted on Categories Blog, Home, Plant Profiles, Plants, PropagationTags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Imagine if the apple section in your grocery store looked like this! Here is just a small fraction of fruit from the 2,000 types of trees present in the USDA ARS Geneva Apple Collection, almost all of it very tasty.
Imagine if the apple section in your grocery store looked like this! Here is just a small fraction of fruit from the 2,000 types of trees present in the USDA ARS Geneva Apple Collection, almost all of it very tasty.

Article and photos by Robyn Mello, POP Program Director. See an extensive photo selection from the tour below the article.

On Monday, I had the sheer joy and privilege of taking the day to visit what is likely the most unique display of Malus (apple) trees in the country, a dream nearly two years in the making. The USDA Agricultural Research Service’s Geneva, NY office is housed within a large office complex alongside the New York State Agricultural Experiment Station and Cornell University Cooperative Extension. Just around the corner from the offices is McCarthy Farm, home of the USDA ARS Outdoor Apple Collection. AKA Apple Heaven.

What is The USDA ARS Apple Collection?

What makes this government apple collection the most unique? It’s a hub for genetic preservation, not a commercial orchard or proprietary plant-breeding farm. It’s focused on keeping alive all the different species within the Malus genus and hundreds of cultivars within the grocery store-ready Malus domestica species. Even the most diverse apple orchards working to preserve heirloom apples or those working to breed new types of apples are most often working with Malus domestica (domesticated apple) alone. Commercial orchards are working with cultivars or varieties. ARS Geneva has 53 species.

A vastly underfunded and understaffed program, ARS Geneva only has a handful of researchers. For example, there’s only one researcher in the whole country dedicated to developing new apple rootstocks! However, C. Thomas Chao, the collection’s Horticulturist and Curator, was kind enough to stand outside in the cold with me for nearly an hour answering my questions.

After that, he allowed me free reign to stay in the orchard and taste any fruit I wanted until the gates were closed! [Envision me, a proverbial kid in a candy store, hiding my glee at this news.] They’re not interested in or able to compete with commercial growers or get involved in Intellectual Property disputes around breeding the newest and best apple cultivar, so there was no secrecy involved. In fact, nearly all of the collection’s material can be requested and received in the form of grafting material from the ARS Apple Collection Catalog for free! They want people to know about and use this material.

Thomas explained there are nearly 8,000 accessions (items) in the collection, about 1,500 of them grown from wild seed around the world and the rest from plant tissue grafted on dwarfing or semi-dwarfing Malus rootstock. 2,000 varieties are present. Thomas said, “We’re the only ones in the country focused on the wild stuff,” probably because “nothing wild will ever be turned into a commercial variety.” The crops are sprayed according to Cornell Cooperative Extension recommendations, but of course, sometimes, trees die. Fortunately, there is a liquid nitrogen cryo-backup system in Fort Collins, Colorado for almost every specimen in the Permanent Collection to ensure things aren’t lost. A friend of mine, Christopher Richards, has a lot to do with the research and maintenance of that collection. He was in the mountains in China doing wild apple research just this past week. I have a really awesome job, but if I didn’t, I’d surely be working to get the proper education to work alongside Chris or Thomas!

Apples most people are familiar with are clones of mother trees found or bred for tasty fruit and grafted onto rootstock with preferable growing qualities (see our earlier blog post about grafting for more explanation). Just as inbreeding with animal species or senescence in gourmet mushroom farming, the reliance on a limited number of monocropped cultivars of apples can ultimately result in weaker specimens, more pest and disease problems, and less tasty and nutrient-rich food. If Malus domestica cultivars begin to fail, rootstocks are attacked by new or stronger pests, or climate change continues to threaten currently-accepted growing conditions, the ARS Geneva genetic databank will allow farmers and scientists to go back to the drawing board.

What are the apples like?

My time in the orchard was cut short due to 11 hours of round trip driving, very cold temperatures, and an afternoon rainstorm, so I was really only able to view the site’s Core Collection (pun hopefully intended) and a row of its wild seed-grown trees. The Core Collection is 3 rows of 258 accessions of apples, including 40 species that represent the maximum genetic diversity of the whole collection. It’s the place researchers start their work, and once they narrow down their search, they may move into a more specific area of species or hybrids within the larger 2,000 accession orchard. As a very amateur researcher, the best I could do is use my eyes and mouth to decide where I want to focus my citizen science research.

Each tree is well-labeled with the species, cultivar name, PI (Plant Identification) number, and GMAL (Geneva Malus) number. PI relates to the number in GRIN Global, the USDA’s national database and Germplasm Resource Information Network (GRIN). GMAL is the local number for The ARS Geneva Catalog, necessary because not all specimens are yet part of the GRIN collection. These numbers are how one can find the specimens they’d like to request from the catalog.

Thomas told me the best time to come is in mid-to-late September, but there were still tons of trees loaded with fruit. Since it’s not a production orchard, no one is harvesting the fruit. Rather, it just falls to the ground when it ripens and is left to rot. Seeing the ground below productive apple trees is really a sight to behold.

Because this isn't a production orchard, all the fruit falls to the ground, creating a rainbow of fruit.
Because this isn’t a production orchard, all the fruit falls to the ground, creating a rainbow of fruit.

The orchard in the sunshine reflected a full palette of colors ranging dark brown, lime green, magenta, canary yellow, cadmium red, burgundy, orange, and baby pink in innumerable combinations and patterns. Their flesh ranged from bright white to pink to yellow to beet red. Some of the fruits were soft with age, others were surprisingly waxy, and others covered in a soft fuzz. They were round, oval, the size of a dime or the size of a grapefruit and everything in between. Flesh textures were crisp, soft, grainy, crunchy, mealy, and starchy. Some were like eating a spoonful of table sugar; some so bitter and astringent that they left a film in my mouth akin to eating an underripe American persimmon; some with such a note of perfume they were hard to eat; some so sour they made my cheeks hurt; but many were just the right combination of sweet-tart complexity.

Bark colors were brown, gray, orange. Leaves were different shapes and sizes–some more like hawthorn than apple–and had vivid orange-red fall colors. The cultivar “Hordapfel” had large green leaves with beautiful purple veins. The fruits even rot differently according to their composition–some just juicing away to nothing, others leaving dessicated fruit mummies.

I tasted probably 100 different apples from at least 24 species. It didn’t take long to realize that their flavor and texture could be pretty regularly categorized according to color and size. My winners of the day were Malus domestica cultivars with orange-hues in their skin and flesh in the yellow spectrum, including names like “Belle de Boskoop”, “Calville Blanc”, and “Orleans Reinette”; as well as smaller fruits with green and pink hues in their skin and white or pink flesh such as “Lady” (a 2,000 year-old cultivar) and “Lady Williams”. The “Liberty” cultivar, which we often plant in our POP partner orchards due to its pest and disease resistance, is definitely one of the tastiest and considered one of the highest in phytonutrients.

Malus sieversii is a species native to Kazakhstan which is believed to be the primary ancestor of most cultivars of orchard apple (Malus domestica), and it is in danger of extinction. Keeping these specimens alive on dwarf and their own rootstocks is very important to this collection and the future of food. Two very late varieties still with fruit on them, KAZ 96 09-02 and KAZ 96 09-02, were pretty tasty, and lots of other large crabapples from various species were deliciously sour as well. If you have a good bit of outdoor space and patience, you can write to C. Thomas Chao requesting a Malus sieversii seed packet from their open-pollinated block, and he’ll send you 25 seeds and instructions for stratification and germination. Beware, however, that they could end up anywhere between 10’ and 50’ tall!

Malus sikkimensis had tiny, transluscent, red-brown fruit. Malus coronaria had waxy green fruit with orange leaves. Malus florentina had clusters of small fruit with hawthorn-like leaves. Malus fusca had some of my favorite crabapple flavor with large clusters of small, oblong, green-brown fruits. Malus bhutanica had gorgeous small magenta fruits, but they were the worst for astringency. Other Malus domestica cultivars I particularly liked were “Smokehouse”, “Snow” (like Snow White?), “Cox’s Orange Pippin”. “M25”, a very common rootstock variety, also had really good fruit. I got to taste very common cultivars like “Delicious”, “Golden Delicious”, “Fuji”, and “Granny Smith” and I was largely unimpressed compared to the lesser-known cultivars. I found that the fruits with dark red/burgundy skin and bright white flesh had some of the most simple, sucrose flavors.

Next year, I’ll prepare to visit for longer and take better notes on cultivars and species for personal and POP nursery purposes. This whirlwind one-day adventure was well worth it!

Dreams do come true!
Dreams do come true!

How can you help with this work?

    • Request new varieties of apples in your grocery stores. There are many cultivars grown in the United States, but very few of the many thousands known are grown commercially on a large-scale.
    • Learn to graft, perhaps at an upcoming POP Grafting Workshop! Then, request plant tissue from the ARS Apple Catalog or GRIN Global Database, grow your own fruit, and feed your neighbors! Orders are due in by January 10, 2017 for next season’s tissue requests.
    • Write to your Congressperson and demand that more of our taxpayer dollars be put towards funding crucial non-commercial plant preservation work. The work of the USDA ARS is important to the livelihoods of farm owners and laborers, consumer wallets and diets, our national security, and the survival of several global ecosystems.
    • Become a POP Liaison and learn to assist in caring for apple trees (and over 150 other species of edible and medicinal plants) at one of our 50+ community orchards spread throughout Philadelphia!
    • Get involved with local seedsavers groups or the Seedsavers’ Exchange out of Chicago to ensure the upkeep of agricultural biodiversity.
    • Visit and buy apples from a local heritage apple orchard like Northstar Orchard in Cochranville, PA. You can find a map and listing of other local orchards featuring a wide array of apples (and even search by cultivar) at orangepippin.com
    • Try not to demonize farmers who grow conventionally, but become educated and encourage your local growers to become organic and/or low-spray. It’s extremely challenging–but not impossible–to grow apples organically in our region and climate, due to regularly humid conditions and the fact that almost everyone is reliant on chemicals, making organic and low-spray orchards beacons of hope for pests. Try to find ways to encourage organic growing practices through food policy work, voting with your wallet (buy organic), and volunteering at a local orchard.
    • Take a Permaculture Design Course (PDC) to learn how working with the landscape and introducing a greater diversity of species can improve yields and lessen problems. I’m working to develop a Philly-based PDC for 2017, so stay tuned!

I love all creatures, all plants, and all fruit trees. I definitely could not pick a favorite. But there’s something very special about the apple, physically and symbolically. As a genus, it relates to this country’s history, nutritional evolution (or devolution), the development of the agricultural economy, globalization, international development, environmental conservation, technological innovation, climate change, and current political and social trends related to our food system. Our world can easily be viewed through an apple lens. Though many of us probably eat more apples than other fruits, don’t take their abundance in a grocery store for granted. Appreciate your fruit and food-growers, and become a more conscious consumer!

Photos (More Resources Below)

The first apple we sampled had deep red flesh and would make a wonderful pink cider. The fruit and leaves of this tree were high in anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant commonly found in blueberries.
The first apple we sampled had deep red flesh and would make a wonderful pink cider. The fruit and leaves of this tree were high in anthocyanins, a powerful antioxidant commonly found in blueberries.
Some wild apples grow along the ground with a serious weeping habit.
Some wild apples grow along the ground with a serious weeping habit.
A wild Malus toringa leaf-shape
A wild Malus toringa leaf-shape
A view of the taller, more forested-feeling wild specimen area.
A view of the taller, more forested-feeling wild specimen area.
Some of the seed-grown wild specimens had very different leafing patterns than our commonly viewed apple leaves.
Some of the seed-grown wild specimens had very different leafing patterns than our commonly viewed apple leaves.
Our tour was cut short by a rainstorm.
Our tour was cut short by a rainstorm.
The hybrid cultivar "Ottawa 11" was abundant and beautiful.
The hybrid cultivar “Ottawa 11” was abundant and beautiful.


"Hordapfel" cultivar had beautiful and large purple-veined leaves.
“Hordapfel” cultivar had beautiful and large purple-veined leaves.
Malus hybrid "Eleyi" with pink flesh
Malus hybrid “Eleyi” with pink flesh
Lady Williams cultivar
Lady Williams cultivar

img_0099 img_0098

The "Belle de Boskoop" cultivar was huge and delicious!
The “Belle de Boskoop” cultivar was huge and delicious!
Malus x robusta "Korea"
Malus x robusta “Korea”
Malus x hartwigii
Malus x hartwigii
Malus fusca - Oregon or Pacific crabapple
Malus fusca – Oregon or Pacific crabapple
Malus bhutanica aka Malus toringoides - cut-leaf crabapple - is native to China and has extremely tannic, astringent qualities similar to the effect of eating an underripe American persimmon.
Malus bhutanica aka Malus toringoides – cut-leaf crabapple – is native to China and has extremely tannic, astringent qualities similar to the effect of eating an underripe American persimmon.
Malus hupuhensis - Tea crabapple - The different colors of bark in the orchard are also stunning!
Malus hupuhensis – Tea crabapple – The different colors of bark in the orchard are also stunning!
Malus ioensis "Bechtel Crab" - Prairie crabapple
Malus ioensis “Bechtel Crab” – Prairie crabapple
Malus ioensis "Texana" - Texas crabapple
Malus ioensis “Texana” – Texas crabapple
Malus florentina - Hawthorn-leaf or Florentine crabapple
Malus florentina – Hawthorn-leaf or Florentine crabapple
Malus coronaria - Sweet crabapple
Malus coronaria – Sweet crabapple

imag0713 imag0709 imag0706 imag0703 imag0699 img_0085 img_0084


The orchard in all its glory
The orchard in all its glory
The Calville Blanc cultivar, with yellow skin and flesh, was one of the first and best apples I sampled.
The Calville Blanc cultivar, with yellow skin and flesh, was one of the first and best apples I sampled.
The orange-skinned domestic cultivars were consistently delicious!
The orange-skinned domestic cultivars were consistently delicious!

img_0080 img_0079 imag0664

SUPPORT US!  If you found this entry useful, informative, or inspiring, please consider a donation of any size to help POP in planting and supporting community orchards in Philadelphia: phillyorchards.org/donate.


Some Disease Resistant Apple Cultivars

The ReZista Collection


Crimson Crisp



Pixie Crunch




Organic apple production websites

Michael Phillips’ Holistic Orcharding Site – http://www.groworganicapples.com/

Organic Apple books – http://www.groworganicapples.com/organic-orchard-books/





Sources of Knowledge and Heritage/Resistant Apple Varieties

Lee Calhoun – Southern Heritage Apple Collection

John Bunker – Super Chilly Farm and FedCo Trees, Maine

Oregon Heritage Farm

North Star Orchard – PA

Orange Pippin – England Database, maybe available in USDA Collection

Susan Brown, Apple Breeding Program, Cornell – https://hort.cals.cornell.edu/people/susan-brown

Seedsavers Exchange – http://www.seedsavers.org/

University of Minnesota Apple Varieties – http://mnhardy.umn.edu/varieties/fruit/apples

Washington State University Apple Breeding – http://dialogue.tfrec.wsu.edu/breed/

USDA And Global Fruit Research Resources

ARS Geneva website – https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/geneva-ny/plant-genetic-resources-research/

Google Scholar (for USDA Research articles) – https://scholar.google.com/

USDA Plant Collection Database – GRIN Global – http://www.grin-global.org/

ARS Geneva Apple Collection Catalog – https://www.ars.usda.gov/ARSUserFiles/80600500/ClonalCatalogs/2016/MCatalog16.pdf

(Best to search by PI number)

Apple Rootstock Breeding Program – https://www.ars.usda.gov/northeast-area/geneva-ny/plant-genetic-resources-research/docs/national-apple-rootstock-breeding-program/

Global Fruit News from Yentzen Group – http://www.freshfruitportal.com/

Good Fruit Grower Magazine – http://www.goodfruit.com/



Preservation: Canning Safety and Summer Recipes

Posted on Categories Blog, Canning, Cooking & Preservation, Home, RecipesTags , , , ,

peach butter.jpg

Whether you’re making jams, jellies, preserves, conserves, fruit butters, shrubs, sauces or something else – canning is a great way to preserve the abundance of the harvest to enjoy throughout the year!

Intro to Canning Safety

Ensuring that the food you’re eating is free from things that will make you sick is extremely important. If you’re new to canning but have an abundance of harvest, now is as good a time as any to experiment! These tips are only an introduction to show you how simple the process actually is. Please read more in depth on websites listed below, attend a workshop, or can with more experienced friends to ensure you understand the whole process and will be able to enjoy your labor all winter long.

1. Tempered glass mason jars should be used that are specifically for canningpurposes. Don’t reuse glass jars from things like store-bought tomato sauce or mayonnaise. Those are too thin & will shatter under prolonged heat or pressure.

2. New mason jars come with jar ring bands and sealing lids. You can reuse jars and ring bands as long as they are in good condition, but sealing lids must be purchased each time you can something new because their seal is compromised the first time they’re used.

3. Before filling, examine and clean all jars and ring bands, and fill them with hot water until they’re filled with food.

4. Adding an acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, will help to preserve the color and health of your recipes.

5. If you’re working exclusively with fruits, tomatoes, or pickles, a canningkettle, or hot water bath, method will suffice to sterilize. Canning kettles can be purchased, or a deep stock pot. If using a stock pot, ensure that the bottom of the glass jars are raised from the bottom, either by using a cake rack in the bottom or even carefully lining up some extra jar ring bands on the bottom to rest the jars on. Fill the stock pot with water up to an inch above the top of the largest canning jar.

6. Canning vegetables, seafood, and meat requires a steam pressure canner, due to a general lack of acidity and shorter shelf life of these ingredients. Pressure canners are fairly expensive but can be shared by groups or perhaps borrowed from organizations that may have them. You may also get lucky if you frequent thrift stores like I do. Some of the great kitchen things people get rid of are crazy!

7. Some useful canning accessories include: colander or wire basket for blanching fruits, a food mill, a food chopper, a wire strainer, a wider-mouth canning funnel for easy jar-filling, a jar lifter for handling hot jars, an accurate thermometer to check temperatures, and an automatic timer.

8. When in doubt, throw it out! If you open up a jar after it’s been sitting a while & it seems a little weird–i.e. smells bad, has softened a lot, is discolored, or moldy–get rid of it. The biggest fear when canning is botulism. These organisms can live without air inside a sealed jar and will not be destroyed by boiling water. Botulism cannot survive in an acid environment, but with non-acidic ingredients, sustained steam pressure at 240 degrees F is necessary.

Canning Safety Resources

Food in Jars Canning 101: http://foodinjars.com/canning-101-archive/

Canning 101 YouTube Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5q1T7bKoxQ

USDA Complete Guide to Home Canning: http://nchfp.uga.edu/publications/publications_usda.html

The Encyclopedia of Country Living, 40th Anniversary Ed, by Carla Emery: http://www.amazon.com/Encyclopedia-Country-Living-Anniversary-Edition/dp/1570618402/ref=dp_ob_title_bk

Sunset Home Canning, 1975: http://www.amazon.com/Sunset-Home-Canning-Preserving-Freezing/dp/0376022116


Now some fun stuff, to be prepared whether you’re canning or not! These things will all keep in the fridge, too, but not for as long.

Fruit Shrub Syrup via The Kitchn

yields approx. 2 cups

Derived from the Arabic word ‘sharbah’ meaning “a drink,” a shrub is a fresh fruit syrup preserved with vinegar and sugar that makes a delicious beverage syrup and can add zesty brightness and fresh fruit flavor to salads, vegetable dishes, and meat!

strawberry shurb.jpgFruit Shrub Formula

2 cups fruit – Consider making this with picked or gleaned fruits including cherries, mulberries, peaches, plums, pears!  Wash, peel, chop and/or lightly crush the fruits you’re using. Add herbs and spices to your liking including fresh ginger, peppercorns, cinnamon, oregano, thyme, lavender. Get creative! (Some favorite combinations of mine include plums-thyme, cinnamon-ginger-cherry, mulberries-licorice)

1 pint vinegar – Again, your choice here! White vinegar will give you the sharpest brightest flavor, with apple cider vinegar being the most mild. Balsamic is a nice choice for working with strawberries and other berries.

1 ½ to 2 cups sugar – raw, white, brown.

Add your chopped/prepared/crushed fruit to a sterilized glass container like a mason jar that has been previously boiled for 10 minutes.

Heat vinegar in a saucepan to just below boiling and then pour vinegar over the fruit, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Cap tightly and leave the fruit-vinegar mixture to cool and settle for anywhere from 24 hours to 4 weeks for the flavors to infuse.

Strain the fruit-vinegar mixture through cheesecloth or a coffee filter – saving the fruit perhaps for additions to chutneys or other preparations – and then add the sugar. Bring the strained fruit-vinegar mixture to a near boil in a saucepan then dissolve the sugar into the mixture.

Jar and can in sterilized jars or store in the fridge for up to 6 months! To enjoy, add 1 TB of shrub into sparkling or still water for a refreshing, flavorful beverage.


Spicy Tomato Chutney via My Darling Lemon Thyme

yields 2 medium size jars

2 lbs ripe tomatoes

2 TB olive oil

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp fenugreek

½ tsp black sesame seeds

4 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped

2 TB finely grated ginger

1 long red chili, seeded and chopped

2 tsp sea salt

2 large apples, peeled, cored and finely diced

1 ¼ c. raw sugar

¾ c apple cider vinegar

Peel and chop your tomato flesh. To easily remove the skins: remove the bottom core from each tomato using a sharp knife and make a criss-cross X on the round end. Place in a glass or ceramic bowl and pour boiling water to cover the tomatoes for 45-60 seconds and then cold water to refresh it. Skin should slip off easily.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, stir in spices (mustard seeds, fenugreek, black sesame) and heat until they begin to crackle and get fragrant. Add in chili, garlic, ginger – stir for 45 seconds. Then, add in tomatoes, salt, sugar, vinegar, and apples – giving it a good stir. Bring to boil then reduce to summer and cook for 55-60 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes until the mixture thickens.

Remove from the heat and transfer to sterilized jars. The chutney will store 3-6 months in a cool dark place. Use open jars within 2 weeks.


Peach Butter with Cinnamon, Ginger, and Clove via Nourished Kitchen

yields 6 pints (48 servings)

15 pounds peaches (pitted and quartered)

3 TB ground cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

½ tsp. ground cloves

¼ tsp. ground cardamom

¼ tsp. ground allspice

Blend batches of the peaches in a food processor or blender until smooth.

Pour peach puree into heavy-bottomed stock pot and stir in spices. Simmer uncovered over medium-lowe heat, stirring frequently for about 60 minutes or until a thickened fine paste forms.

Blend until smooth with an immersion blender and pour into pint-sized mason jars and refigerate or can using the water bath method. Enjoy!

Wishing you an abundant harvest and uplifting summer!

This edition of POP TIPS prepared by Education & Outreach Director Robyn Mello with assistance from POP Intern Alyssa Schimmel.

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