Wednesday, December 13, 2006
I got this recipe from npr.org reader Dane Smith, who writes in:
Fall was always the time my grandmother made persimmon bread here in the Ozarks. It was a family ritual and a comfort food of my youth. Persimmons are too astringent until they are soft and mushy.
Sometime about the first frost, the persimmons get soft enough that they will fall away from the stem and then it's a race between you, the deer and the squirrels to see who gets them.
One way to increase your yield is to have a child climb up a tree and shake the limbs. Nowadays, I am too big to climb a tree, so I just shake them. I guess you could put a sheet down to catch the fruit as they fall, but we never did this.
My grandmother would squash all the pulp out of the fruit with a food mill she used. The food mill looked like an inverted cone-shaped colander. Fully half the fruit is seeds and skin, so a gallon of fruit will give you about a cup of pulp. But my grandmother would make a bread out of anything: carrot, zucchini, pumpkin, and of course banana. And even paw-paw when we could find them.
"Fully half the fruit is seed but my Grandmother said that back in the Depression they would roast the seeds and make a coffee substitute. One of the fun things we would do in school was to try to convince kids to eat green persimmons. They're not really bitter or sour, just incredibly astringent.
The following recipe is close to what my grandmother made, but she never wrote down a recipe so I experimented til I got something close.
Recipe and essay by Dane Smith
As Dane notes, make sure the persimmons are super-ripe translucent and pink or, as my local fruit seller says, youll never eat another persimmon again. Store them in a paper bag until theyre ready, which in my case never transpired. Four weeks and three out of five persimmons didn't ripen (and two rotted waiting for the others to catch up)!
So I wasn't able to make this recipe. I hope you can.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1 and 1/2 cups persimmon pulp
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups flour
tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
cup butter, softened
1 cup black walnuts or hickory nut, chopped
1 cup raisins
Mix together the persimmon pulp, milk, eggs, and sugar. Sift in the dry ingredients and add the butter; mix until well-blended. Stir in chopped nuts and raisins. Pour batter into a loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
For an added kick you can rehydrate the raisins in rum before cooking with them.