Thursday, October 10, 2013

Persimmons


So, remember Aiden's summer job, working on a friend's ranch and in his persimmon orchard? Well, the persimmons are ripe and it's time to get down to serious business processing all that fruit. So, in between school, football, and the beginning stages of an Eagle project, Aiden is working every extra available hour up in the orchard. I don't know much about persimmons, so I hung around to talk and watch and take pictures last weekend.

The orchard came about as an investment project. The owner did a lot of research about fruit orchards and persimmons in particular stood out as having the highest potential for profit. He has over sixty acres on his property and he used some of that, on the hillside to plant 475 persimmon trees. He said they would normally sell for about $75 each, but that particular year, Home Depot cancelled their entire order of them, and through some inside information he found out about it and bought them all for about $7-$10 per tree.


Aiden spent the summer hiking up the mountain with buckets of water and horse manure. He sprayed the trees with deer repellent. Now they are heavy with fruit so he is helping with the harvesting and processing. It takes eight years for persimmon trees to begin fruiting and this is the first year of production. This will be a "trial run" and most of the fruit will be given away. Beginning next year, however, the fruit will be sold, and for a pretty penny too. Persimmons (these will be dried and boxed up) sell for between $35-$40 PER POUND. Yah. Pretty crazy, huh? My friend has corporate clients and overseas clients who are interested in them. I turn up my nose at grapes when they're $2.99/lb. Can you even imagine paying $40/pound for persimmons? Thus, the investment opportunity!


Aiden had just cleaned up for his lunch break when I got there, but I asked him to quickly show me what he did. So in these pics, he doesn't have his gloves on, but you'll see later on he wears them when he's working.

First, they peel the fruit using a rigged up drill and a hand peeler. I was impressed with the clever contraption and the speed at which it got the job done.



Pretty, huh?



Aiden recruited his friend Nick to work with him. They get to sit in this lovely yard and peel persimmons for hours.



(I love it when my kids work. I'm thrilled beyond belief that he has this experience. He really wants to buy a BMX bike and he's willing to work hard.)


Then the fruit gets hung up in this screened-in garden enclosure to dry. Don't they look like little Chinese lanterns? I think they're lovely.


The boys attach these special hooks to the stems first and then they have to be hung up, spaced so that they don't touch each other at all.








Pretty cool, huh? It takes a good bit of time for the drying process to complete, and then they will be boxed up in these lovely wooden boxes that he had made.

Aiden gets to earn a decent amount of money doing this, and because he's starting so young, he'll gain the experience he needs to be a competent employee for this man for many years to come. It's the beginnings of his college fund (he has to save half of his earnings after paying tithing) the way that nannying the triplets was for Lyndsay when she was in high school.

Yay for work opportunities for kids!

5 comments:

Barbara Dallon said...

Crazy question here: Why do they hang them to dry?

Jenna said...

Barbara, this is the way it is traditionally done in Japan. The fruit must have airflow all around it so it doesn't rot. It takes several weeks to complete the drying. Here's another tutorial on how to do it at home:

http://www.rootsimple.com/2012/11/how-to-make-hoshigaki-dried-persimmons/

Jennifer said...

Jenna, what a wonderful opportunity for Aiden!

Raelene said...

Jenna, have you made any cookies yet? I grew up with them from my grandmas house.

Andrea said...

What a great job!
And I had no idea about persimmons. So interesting.