Friday, November 30, 2007

Persimmon Diaries

Sometimes a friend will point out something they think is obvious and it comes as a complete revelation, bordering on an epiphany, to me. I was over at my friend Kim's the other day, sitting on the floor playing with her puppies and she said, "Want some persimmon?"

Now, I really love the way persimmons look. That bright orange globular body with the cool-looking leaves curling out the top are an art director's dream. But try as I might, I hadn't really found a recipe that made me sit up and say, "Wow, this is an amazing fruit!" And I'd tried a few, including a persimmon bread, persimmon chutney, persimmon sauce. It all lacked a certain oomph that I look for.

So when Kim handed me a slice of a Fuyu persimmon she'd bought at Trader Joe's, I wasn't sure what to expect. I bit into it, and it had a softly sweet taste and firm, smooth texture. I had another one, skin and all, and it was a delight. "So this is what persimmons are all about," I thought.

I was still pondering that when I got home and found that had called, wanting me to write a quick column about, you guessed it, persimmons! You can read it here, and get Luan Schooler's terrific recipe for Bresaola with Persimmons.

1 comment:

Kathleen Bauer said...

Anthony Boutard of Ayers Creek Farm writes:

"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 habve 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.

Thelma Johnson's Persimmon Pudding

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.