Saturday, October 23, 2010


Maybe it was the rainy spring, maybe it was the same combination of climatic factors that also gave parts of Missouri a hearty grape harvest. Regardless of the cause, this has truly been a banner fall for persimmons. Trees in full sun (fescue pastures, banks of recreational lakes, yards...) are loaded with the bright orange fruits that dangle from the leafless branches like monochrome Christmas tree ornaments.

There are those who are hesitant to eat fruit that has fallen to the ground, but persimmons picked off a tree tend to be unripe, and the taste and sensation of biting into an unripe persimmon is unforgettable. When the fruits look like the photo I took above, a little banged up, super tender, they're ready to eat.

In Ozark lore, if you split the persimmon seed in half and it splits into a spoon-like shape, the upcoming winter will be full of snow. If the inside of the seed looks like a knife, winter will be icy and bitter cold. According to the first seed I spit out last month, we'll have a snowy winter in Missouri.

So how to prepare persimmons? Gather a whole mess of them, rinse them off, put them in a colander and mash the pulp through the sieve until only seeds are left in the colander. Use persimmon pulp like prepared pumpkin in pies, cookies, or bread (or like one of my readers, in mead). Persimmons are loaded with vitamins C and A, and have a distinct taste that raccoons, deer and opossums particularly appreciate.

Here's my reliable pumpkin cookie recipe (from New Orleans chef Susan Spicer's bakery) with a persimmon substitute. I don't measure spices and additions, but the rest of the ingredients need to be measured out. You'll need about half a grocery bag of persimmons for one recipe. Please make sure the fruit is ripe before baking....

Persimmon (or pumpkin) cookies
1 c. butter
3/4 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. white sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c. persimmon pulp (or a can of pumpkin for pumpkin cookies)
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
spice it the way you like it: loads of cinnamon (S. Spicer writes 1 tsp. but I wing it), allspice, ginger, a little clove, maybe some nutmeg
1 tsp. salt
pecans or walnuts and raisins (again, however you like it. I load up my cookies with debris...)

Cream butter and sugars. Add egg and persimmons to the mixture. Slowly add the dry ingredients. Drop teaspoon sized onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes or until they look done.


Anonymous said...

nicely done. You might also try a persimmon chiffon pie!

Allison Vaughn said...

We've had so much wind lately, that i bet the ground is loaded with them. I'll hit the bottoms this weekend and try it out! persimmons are so great.

Anonymous said...

seems to me that the persimmons ripened a whole lot earlier than normal...I guess due to all the dry conditions this year.

Allison Vaughn said...

I think they did, too. Also, I had horrible luck trying to find pawpaws.