Sunday, September 14, 2014

Wild Persimmons

American Persimmon (sugar plum) - Diospyros virginiana

Down the dusty road,
cicada cacophony
and lo! Persimmons!

During my evening walk on the long dusty drive that eventually leads to my house, I was surprised to find a persimmon tree full of fruit.  How exciting! I've lived here the last two autumns and never noticed them! (In my defense, they are tiny, perhaps 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter, and I have vague recollections of seeing "tiny oranges"). I must confess, I'd never tried persimmons before, so I had to do a bit of research to know when these would be ripe. They should be soft and close to rotting (but not actually rotten) for them to be sweet; wrinkly, translucent reddish-brown skin is a good sign. If they come off the tree with a gentle twist/pull, they should be good, but if they give you any resistance at all, leave them be. An unripe persimmon is very astringent and leaves your mouth in a pucker that lasts quite a long time. Apparently this is a fun prank to play on folks who don't know any better.

These two, though gorgeous, are not ripe

A thunderstorm is brewing as I arrive back at the house with my "bounty"

I managed to get two ripe ones

There is not much pulp in them due to the presence of several very large seeds, but what little was there was delicious. I imagine with the right spices this would taste a lot like pumpkin pie, but with a bit of a citrus-y flavor. Thankfully there are many, many recipes for persimmon puddings, pies, and jams featuring our native persimmon (there are Asian species as well). I'm hoping that by October or November there will be enough ripe persimmons to try out one or two of them...and I may look for more trees on the LL's property...

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