Persimmons!

by Daisy on 11/12/2015

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Quite by accident I discovered a persimmon tree Tuesday afternoon.

I was in a hurry and could only pick up a handful of the soft, ripe “sugar plums” to take home. It’s been years since I tasted a persimmon, and when I did I was transported back to my youth–my childhood yard was filled with persimmon trees.

It was a treacherous way to grow up, and I mean that in the most whimsical and Southern way possible; our autumns were spent tiptoeing our way through a sweet minefield of squishy fruit and the accompanying wasps. Yes, we’d eat them, and yes, we’d trick our Colorado cousins with offers of the green, mouth-puckering unripe ‘simmons. It was an overall win, in spite of the mess they made.

My parents selected a particularly perilous spot to build a house. As I’ve said, there was a persimmon grove on one side. On the other side, right by the clothesline (maybe even as one anchor for the clothesline) was a honey locust tree.

Here is a photo of a honey locust tree trunk I borrowed from Wikipedia:

255px-HoneyLocustThorn

These thorns are up to 7 inches long and regularly fall to the ground.

My siblings and I grew up to be cautious people who never run around barefoot in unknown territory.

Back to the persimmons.

This morning I went prepared to collect fruit. I knew the winds of the previous day would work in my favor, and I wasn’t wrong. I picked up 5 pounds of persimmons in just a few minutes.

If you’ve never tasted a persimmon, they’re the fruit of a native southern American tree. Each one is about the size of a walnut. They taste sort of like a juicy date with caramel overtones–very delicious. You have to wait until they’re completely ripe to eat them or they are terrifically astringent. One taste of an unripe persimmon and you will think your mouth is going to be in a permanent state of pucker. If there is any firmness about the fruit, leave it be.

Most of the ones that have fallen to the ground are going to be ripe, unless it was dislodged prematurely by a storm or a critter. Birds love them, as do many other wild creatures.

Persimmons have large, shiny, brown seeds. I’ve read they can be roasted and used as a coffee substitute, but I’ve never tried that. I’ve also heard they were used during the Civil War as buttons. Never tried that, either, but I’m intrigued.

IMG_4317My next knitting project might have to have persimmon buttons.

I’ll report later on what I make with my persimmon haul. I have a friend with a family persimmon pudding recipe I want to try.

Suggestions welcome.

 

 



{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

diana November 12, 2015 at 1:35 pm

Persimmon pudding…I loved it as a child but don’t have a recipe.

Melissa November 14, 2015 at 8:53 pm

I didn’t realize persimmon seeds looked like that. Probably because I never got past the crazy cotton mouth from eating an unripe one. Yuck! When I saw the picture of the honey locust tree it reminded me of an article I had read a while back about a guy who would use the thorns of the honey locust to make sewing needles. Might be a fun/dangerous thing to try, lol.

Nathan November 14, 2015 at 11:01 pm

Consider yourself lucky to have persimmons this year! Up here in southern Illinois, the persimmon trees didn’t produce here. Neither did the pecans. I even got my hands on an old family heirloom persimmon pudding recipe to try this year. Did you split your seeds to see if they show a spoon or a fork inside?

Annelle Williams November 16, 2015 at 9:05 pm

Here’s the recipe we’ve been using for literally decades! Mama Nell didn’t always add the pecans and coconut. Patti and I absolutely loved her persimmon pudding!
MAMA NELL’S PERSIMMON PUDDING

(She gave me this recipe on 11-12-1977)

2 cups persimmon pulp**
1 stick butter, melted and cooled
One-half cup corn oil
2 cups sugar, one white, one dark brown, packed
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups self-rising flour
1-cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoonful vanilla
1 teaspoonful cinnamon
Dash of cloves and nutmeg
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
1 cup shredded coconut (optional)

**Persimmons will ‘turn your mouth wrong side out’ if you try to eat them before they’re ripe. Mama Nell always told us to wait until after the first frost to gather them. Just be sure they are nice and orange and getting soft. It takes a big mixing bowl of persimmons to make 2 cups of pulp. Rinse the persimmons gently and remove any debris. Let them dry. Then either use a pulper to separate the skin and seeds from the pulp, or force through a sieve or strainer. You can freeze the pulp and then thaw completely when ready to make puddings.**

Add the melted, cooled butter and corn oil to both cups of sugar and stir until mixed. Add eggs and mix well. Alternate adding flour and milk until all combined. Stir in vanilla, persimmon pulp and cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg. Fold in pecans and/or coconut if so desired. Divide batter between three loaf pans greased generously with corn oil. Bake at 350? for about 45 minutes. * You want the pudding to be set, but not overcooked. Cool in pan. Turn out onto foil paper. Wrap and store in refrigerator. Serve cold. May top with a little sweetened whipped cream.

*Check after 25 minutes…ovens vary, so if cooking too quickly, turn oven down to 325? and cook for ten more minutes, then watch closely and remove from oven when puddings are completely set…let cool in pan on wire rack.

Daisy November 16, 2015 at 9:24 pm

Annelle–Hooray! THE recipe!! I’m so excited. Thank you, Annelle!

Daisy November 16, 2015 at 9:32 pm

Nathan–I am very fortunate. I love persimmons. And I hesitate to say the pecans are pretty good this year, too. Maybe next year will be a good year for them both in Illinois! I tried to split one, but it was too tough. I guess I’ll have to wait and see what the weather is going to be. Is your recipe anything like Annelle’s? Feel free to share it 🙂

Daisy November 16, 2015 at 9:35 pm

Melissa–It’s hard to get past the unripe experience, but do try one again. Just make sure, like Mama Nell said, to wait until they are quite mushy. Yes, I’d hesitate about the thorns. They are not very forgiving! Ha!

SnowWhite May 14, 2016 at 11:14 am

Try drying them. My grandma had a tree in Sacramento, CA and there is nothing on earth so good as a dried persimmon. She left the peel on and just sliced them very thin to dry in a homemade food dryer in the garage.

Daisy May 15, 2016 at 7:37 am

SnowWhite–That sounds delicious!

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