Persimmons have always been an enigma to me. They seem to grow wild in many parts of the country but what to do with them? I did not grow up eating those luscious, fleshy, harvest-orange orbs, so I would pass them in shops and stores without much thought. That is truly often how it works with me, until my husband — "The Viking," in my life — says to me, "Hey, I think one of our neighbors around the corner is going to let me have all the persimmons off of their tree." All of a sudden The Viking and I get our brains to work on what to do with that many persimmons. His first thought was wine, and my first thought was bread, and that, my friends, explains our relationship in a nutshell.
I was dreaming of not just any bread, but one that rivals my often-requested banana bread recipe. One thing we know for sure is that there will be a bunch of persimmon goodness on our Lil' Suburban Homestead this holiday season. The Viking will be making wine and possibly mead; I have plans to make persimmon cake, bread, and cookies.
We also started researching persimmons, and what I learned is that there are four common types of persimmons: the Saijo, Sheng, Hachiya, and the Fuyu, which is the one we got our hands on. I believe there are more varieties than that. The word "fuyu" is of Japanese origin, and the word "persimmon" comes from Powhatan, an Algonquian language of the eastern United States, meaning “a dry fruit.” (Persimmon: Wikipedia)
If you have never had persimmons, they taste sweet like a plum in my opinion, but I Googled it and some say they taste like dates. One person even mentioned they tasted like pumpkin to them, so, as with many things, taste is subjective. They are often referred to as "nature's candy."
The trick to knowing when they are ripe is that the fuyu persimmon will be orange; all of the persimmons will be the same shade of harvest orange, but they will still be hard to the touch. They will soften over time, though, and you will have to use them up quickly.
I found out that, while it is common for people to forage for persimmons locally (as they grow fairly easily), they are often an overlooked fruit. The reason might be that folks just don't know what to do with them. I looked through several old cookbooks and could hardly find a reference to persimmons except as a fruit. This is why I decided to share with all of you a tried-and-true persimmon cake recipe that I stumbled upon and then made my own.
• 1 cup persimmon fruit pulp
• 2 cup flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
• 1/2 cup light cream
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar
• 1/2 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1/4 cup butter (soft)
• 1 cup chopped pecans — optional (yes, I live in North Carolina)
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Mix all of the dry ingredients together and set aside.
3. Place the persimmon fruit, cream, sugar, eggs, and butter in your mixing bowl and blend. Add the flour mixture until all blended, and then add in the nuts.
4. Pour into a well-greased loaf pan (9 x 5 x 3).
5. Bake for about 45 minutes, but test with a toothpick about 5 minutes before time is up (just to make sure, as all ovens are different).
Once you pull the bread out of the oven, let it cool, slice it up, and enjoy with some delicious eggnog!
Persimmons have many benefits for our health. The list is even longer than the following:
– Vision health
– Immune system booster
– Lowers cholesterol
– Increases metabolism
– Reduces inflammation
– Increases circulation
– And much more!
I know I'm sharing all of this after I shared my delicious bread recipe, but hey, it can make us feel a little bit better about enjoying this delicious fruit!
Persimmons are often enjoyed in puddings, cookies, breads, and cakes, but who knows what else we can think of to make on our lil' homestead. I will certainly be sharing more blog posts on this fun windfall!
No matter what we make with these plump, delicious persimmons, I think that we, along with our friends and neighbors — who we will share this abundance with — will all be quite pleased with the results.
The Viking and I wish you all a happy holiday season!