By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz –
In Persimmon Pickin’ Time Part One, we talked about how to harvest persimmons and how to separate the pulp from the bitter seeds and skin and how to freeze the pulp of this delectable wild fruit. Today, we’ll take on that sticky-sweet pulp in the kitchen and I’ll even throw in a couple of my favorite persimmon recipes to get you started
We already know that persimmons are good wild pickin’s, but did you know that they are nutritious, too? Persimmons are super rich in protein, calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese and they contain the healthy enzymes papain and bromelaine, which are also found in pineapples and papayas. This means that when you eat persimmons, your stomach is encouraged to produce digestive enzymes that help break down food more efficiently, which goes to say that eating persimmons regularly might help you have a healthier digestive system.
But of course, most of us don’t need a reason to dive into the persimmons, because they are so delectably sweet! As a matter of fact, persimmon fruits contain up to 34% fructose, making them one of the sweetest fruits found in nature.
Aside from the sheer sweetness of the fruit, the flavor of a ripe persimmon is a heavenly meeting of the flavors of golden brown sugar and fresh maple syrup with a sweetness that will make your teeth ache. The richness of this homely little fruit is a fabulous taste treat all on its own, but pair it with the traditional holiday spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg and you’re in for something really special.
And while ripe persimmon fruits are pleasantly edible straight from the tree, the cleaned pulp of the fruit can be turned into jams, fruit butters or fruit leather, and can be used to create creamy sauces, puddings and flan. Surprise yourself by adding persimmons to a jar of spicy chutney or walk on the wild side with perky persimmon salsa! The possibilities are just out there waiting for the creative cook.
But the most honest thing you can do to bring out the deep rich flavors and smells of persimmon is to bake it into something. Much like the pumpkin, persimmons are a fall fruit and fairly beg to be wrapped into the cadre of holiday spices, where it’s deep, warm flavor is most easily appreciated.
And I have a great little secret to tell you… persimmon pulp is one of the very best fat substitutes you will ever come across!
Yep, that’s right. Persimmon pulp can not only be made into persimmony baked goods, but it can be slipped into non-persimmony baked goods as a fat substitute. You may know that just about any kind of fruit pulp will work as a fat substitute in baking with prune, apple sauce and banana puree being the most popular, but I dare you to find one that adds the same level of subtle flavor and sweetness as persimmon pulp does.
Here’s the skinny:
For cake, muffin or quick bread recipes replace all or part of the solid fat with half as much persimmon puree. For example, to replace all of the fat in a recipe that calls for 1 cup (two sticks) of butter, replace it with 1/2 cup of persimmon pulp. If the recipe calls for oil, replace that amount with ¾ as much pulp. When eliminating all of the fat in cake, muffin and quick bread recipes, reduce the number of eggs by half.
For cookies the same principle applies, except that it is best to only replace up to half of the solid fat with half as much persimmon pulp, or up to half of the oil with three-fourths (¾) as much pulp. For example, if the recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, replace it with no less than ½ cup of butter and ¼ cup of persimmon pulp. But either way, do not reduce the number of eggs used in a cookie recipe and bake the cookies at a slightly lower temperature to prevent burning.
Of course, our favorites are chocolate-chip persimmon and black walnut cookies. The cookies come out with a rich, caramel, brown sugar taste to die for. I can’t very well leave you hanging there, so here’s the cookie recipe and one for rich, persimmon pudding.
Reduced Fat Chocolate Chip Persimmon and Black Walnut Cookies
2 ¼ c. flour
Rich Persimmon Pudding
1 c persimmon pulp
Wow, I’m really hungry now, so I’ll leave you to it. Happy persimmon pickin’!
© 2010 Jill Henderson
Set in the rugged heart of the Ozark mountains, A Journey of Seasons is memoir, back-to-the-land handbook and nature guide rolled into one. Henderson’s 20-years of living off the land and foraging in the wilderness shines in this cyclopedic work filled with nature notes, botanical musings, back-woods wisdom and just a pinch of “hillbilly” humor. This is one journey you don’t want to miss.
Available in the Show Me Oz Bookstore
Jill Henderson is an artist, author, and the editor of Show Me Oz . Her books, The Healing Power of Kitchen Herbs, The Garden Seed Saving Guide and A Journey of Seasons can be found in the Show Me Oz Bookstore. Jill’s work has also appeared in The Permaculture Activist, The Essential Herbal, Acres USA, and Llewellyn’s Herbal Almanac.