By Jill Henderson – Show Me Oz
In Persimmon Pickin’ Time Part One, I talked about how to identify and harvest wild persimmons and how to process this delectable wild fruit. Today, we’ll take on the sticky-sweet pulp of persimmon in the kitchen with a couple of my favorite persimmon recipes to get you started.
We already know that persimmons are good wild pickin’, but they’re also rich in protein, calcium, potassium, iron, and manganese, too. They also contain healthy enzymes like papain and bromelaine, which are commonly found in pineapples and papayas – and now wild persimmons. These enzymes encourage the production of digestive enzymes, which help break down food more efficiently, helping you to have a healthier digestive system.
Besides the fact that they’re healthy eats, I love persimmons purely 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 their sweetness, ripe persimmon flesh is a heavenly meeting of golden brown sugar and fresh maple syrup. The richness of this homely little fruit is a fabulous taste treat all on its own, but when paired with traditional holiday spices like cinnamon, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg, it’s easy to create something special.
Although ripe persimmons are pleasantly edible straight from the tree, the processed pulp can be turned into jam, fruit butter or leather, or 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 for the creative cook are limited only to your imagination, 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 pumpkin, persimmons are a fall fruit that beg to be paired with traditional 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!
Persimmon Puree as a Fat Substitute
Yep, that’s right. Persimmon pulp can not only be made into persimmony treats, but it can also be added into just about any baked good as a fat substitute. Most people use purees of prune, apple, or banana purees as fat substitutes, but I dare you to find one that adds the same level of rich flavor and sweetness as persimmon pulp does.
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 & Black Walnut Cookies
2 ¼ c. flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ c. butter, softened
¾ c. white sugar
¾ c. light brown sugar, packed
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. persimmon pulp
12-16 oz chocolate chips
1 c. black walnuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 375°. In a medium bowl, blend flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter, sugars and vanilla until creamy. Add eggs and beat well. Stir in persimmon pulp. Gradually add flour mixture to the persimmon mixture, beating well. Fold in chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased baking sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. (Notice that this recipe uses half the fat of a normal chocolate chip cookie recipe!)
Rich Persimmon Pudding
1 c persimmon pulp
1 c sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 c milk
1/4 lb butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla
In a large bowl, mix pulp and sugar together and beat in eggs until creamy. In a medium bowl blend flour, soda and spices together. Slowly add to the persimmon mixture and stir until smooth. Pour batter into greased 9” pan and bake at 325° for 35 minutes. Serve with real whipped cream if desired.
I hope you enjoy these recipes in your own kitchen. And until next time, happy persimmon pickin’!
© Jill Henderson
A Journey of Seasons
If you’ve ever wondered what life is like in the Ozarks, Henderson’s 30+-years of living off the land and foraging in the wilderness truly shines in this beautiful book. Filled with nature notes, wild foraging tips, botanical musings, homesteading, and just a pinch of “hillbilly” humor.
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.