Fruit of the Gods!

Have you ever had a persimmon? What about a North American persimmon, Diospyros virginia?

These persimmons are similar to the Asian persimmons, but much smaller – only about an inch in diameter.

This misunderstood Virginia-native fruit can turn even the most adventurous eater away, and yet, they are also well-loved by those who understand them. They weren’t named the fruit of the gods for nothing, after all. The trick is knowing how to harvest and prepare them!

First, you’ll need to find a persimmon tree. It can be a tricky endeavor because they are rare in most Virginia forests today. But, luckily, it’s easy to recognize even at a distance.

Its bark is slate gray, almost black – which alone is unusual among trees in Virginia. It also has blocky, imperfect squares in the bark. The closest bark to it in Virginia are dogwood and loblolly pine, but dogwood has opposite branching and pine trees are, well, evergreen, with easily distinguished needles!

To Harvest:

  • Wait until the orange fruit falls to the ground.
  • If they are brown and mushy, you’re in lucky!
  • If they are hard, take them home anyway and wait for them to ripen.

To Process:

  • If you were overanxious and picked them straight from the tree or they were hard, DO NOT EAT THEM YET! They will be very astringent.
  • Put them in a paper bag with a ripe banana. After a day or so, try one to see if it is ripe. If it doesn’t make your mouth dry and feel awful, try another. If it tastes good as well, move on to the next step.
  • Next, put your persimmons through a food mill to remove the skins and seeds. Follow the recipe below, or freeze until later.

Persimmon Pudding Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup very ripe persimmon pulp
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 pound butter or margarine, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Combine persimmon pulp with sugar.
  2. Beat in eggs. Mix in milk, then butter.
  3. Sift or stir flour with baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg.
  4. Mix with persimmon mixture.
  5. Pour batter into a well greased 9-inch square cake pan.
  6. Bake in a 315-325°F oven for approx 60 minutes or until knife comes out clean.

If anyone wants persimmons and wants to try this, please let me know! We collected a lot this year! If you do try this recipe, please comment on your results below . . .

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