Persimmons

By
November 29, 2007

The pickup: I have a friend with a persimmon problem. It started when she moved into her house and, in the autumn, noticed that there were little fruits on the tree in her back yard. By October those little fruits had become bright orange persimmons and started falling off the tree onto the grass, to be gobbled up by her two dogs.

The results: Fortunately the fruit doesn’t seem to upset canine tummies, and since my friend isn’t fond of persimmons (she calls them “nasty”), she usually gives away any fruit that remains. And it’s fortunate for me that they’re Fuyu persimmons, the flat round kind I love to eat in any form. With fleshy, soft, seedless fruit and mild flavor, they’re ideal for slicing into wedges and eating skin and all.

Hachiya persimmons take forever to get soft, but are worth the wait.

The name “persimmon” comes from the Algonquin word for “dry fruit,” and the orange fruits are usually available for a short time in late fall. The two kinds you’ll find most often in stores are the Fuyu and the Hachiya. Both kinds are tasty when cooked in chutneys, puddings, and breads.

The round and squat Fuyus are good for eating out of hand as soon as they have a little “give” when squeezed; you can simply gnaw on one like an apple. They’re terrific sliced over salads or served with Italian dried beef as an appetizer.

The heart-shaped Hachiyas are terribly astringent if eaten while still firm, but incredibly sweet and delicious if you wait until they’ve softened into pulp. Just slice off the top (or cut one in half) and eat the gooey insides with a spoon.

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1. by Bri Brownlow on Nov 30, 2007 at 12:53 PM PST

I love hachiya persimmons. Fuyus are good, but I really have a special place in my heart for hachiyas. I even wrote a post about them at http://figswithbri.com/?p=86
I feel evangelical about my love for them, so I’m happy to see someone else writing about persimmons. Thanks!

2. by KAB on Nov 30, 2007 at 4:53 PM PST

Glad you like the story, Bri! And if you have any great recipes, feel free to post them here!

3. by Lizzy on Dec 4, 2007 at 4:21 PM PST

I will not be afraid to try persimmons now! Thanks:)

4. by KAB on Dec 4, 2007 at 5:22 PM PST

Be brave, my friend. You have nothing to fear and everything (well, at least new fruity goodness) to gain.

But where are those recipes I was hoping would come flowing in?

5. by Carrie Floyd on Dec 4, 2007 at 9:31 PM PST

In Deborah Madison’s book The Savory Way there is a wonderful recipe for persimmon bars with currants, nuts and a lemon glaze....

6. by KAB on Dec 5, 2007 at 8:49 AM PST

I’ll check it out. Thanks! Anyone else out there know of a good one? Let us know!

7. by KAB on Dec 5, 2007 at 6:06 PM PST

A friend just sent me this:

“There is a native persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). I am growing a few varieties, one is bearing. The flavor of the native persimmon is spicy. The astringency tends to be more pronounced than the Japanese sorts (D. kaki). The skin is very thin.

“The persimmons are in the Ebony family. The wood is dense and hard. Formerly, it was used for driver heads of golf clubs. The trees are leggy and pretty. They can grow into a very tall tree, 90’ plus. If I have my Greek right, Diospyros means “pear of the gods.”

“When my wife’s late mother hosted a party, she would have a local school teacher, Thelma Johnson, assist her in the food preparations. Persimmon pudding is a classic Eastern Shore of Maryland dish, and a very good dessert. It works with with Japanese persimmons, though the native persimmons provide a bit more depth. I am waiting for the day when we have enough from our trees to make the pudding. In the meantime, Japanese persimmons will suffice.”

<b>Thelma Johnson’s Persimmon Pudding</b>

12 servings

2 c. pulp (persimmons must be mushy)
2 c, sugar
1 1/2 c. buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
3 eggs, beaten
1/2 c. evaporated milk or half and half cream
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 lb. butter (1 stick)
Whipped cream for top

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix pulp and sugar.
Add soda to buttermilk till it quits foaming.
Add mix to pulp with eggs and cream.
Sift flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and stir into pulp mix.
Add vanilla.
Melt butter in 14x10 baking dish. Swish around sides and bottom and add excess to batter.
Pour into baking dish and bake for 45 minutes.
Cool in dish and serve as squares topped with whipped cream.

8. by persimmonpudding on Jan 20, 2008 at 6:59 AM PST

I hope this isn’t seen as “thinly disguised attempts to promote another website”.

I have been cobbling together persimmonpudding.com. I hope that folks will try native persimmons (as the writer of the recipe above briefly mentions). The flavor is much more rich and complex. Asian persimmons are also good though I find I usually need to add more pulp and cut back on liquid in the recipe.

BTW, the person above mentioned that persimmon used to be used for golf club heads. This would have been native persimmons, Diospyros virginiana. However, they have continued to be used for heads...just the market share had largely leaned towards metal woods (see the irony?). Good news though...there has been a resurgence of interest in persimmon club heads and production is once again healthy.

And if y’all need more recipes, drop by my site: www.persimmonpudding.com

It is non-commercial.

9. by wendypchef on Nov 27, 2009 at 3:48 AM PST

I’m so disappointed, I have a couple of persimmon recipes that I wanted to try only to discover that they are not grown this far north (I live in Michigan). And it kind of defeats the local/environmentally friendly purpose if I order them and have them shipped :-)

10. by persimmonpudding on Nov 27, 2009 at 7:21 AM PST

Since many of your readers may be closer to persimmon production, I thought I’d comment. Native persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) are grown further North than Michigan. In fact, many areas in Southern Canada grow them. Asian persimmons (Diospyros kaki), like the ‘fuyu’ and ‘hatchiya’ mentioned above, are not grown that far North however. If you’re looking for locally grown, it might be a stretch. The further North one goes, the more persimmons become a specialty and you may have to search out specific growers. Fruit and/or nut grower associations, North American Fruit Explorers, and even those same organizations in S. Canada (who may have close stateside members) may be the key to finding what you need.

11. by anonymous on Nov 28, 2009 at 3:32 PM PST

A small typo on comment # 10:
“hatchiya” should be: “Hachiya”

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