The Java EE 5 Tutorial

Persisting Entity Instances

New entity instances become managed and persistent either by invoking the persist method, or by a cascading persist operation invoked from related entities that have the cascade=PERSIST or cascade=ALL elements set in the relationship annotation. This means the entity’s data is stored to the database when the transaction associated with the persist operation is completed. If the entity is already managed, the persist operation is ignored, although the persist operation will cascade to related entities that have the cascade element set to PERSIST or ALL in the relationship annotation. If persist is called on a removed entity instance, it becomes managed. If the entity is detached, persist will throw an IllegalArgumentException, or the transaction commit will fail.

EntityManager em;
public LineItem createLineItem(Order order, Product product,
        int quantity) {
    LineItem li = new LineItem(order, product, quantity);
    return li;

The persist operation is propagated to all entities related to the calling entity that have the cascade element set to ALL or PERSIST in the relationship annotation.

@OneToMany(cascade=ALL, mappedBy="order")
public Collection<LineItem> getLineItems() {
    return lineItems;