Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Persimmons: What Autumn Tastes Like

Persimmon pudding has long been a fall staple in my family. When the first of the strange little fruits began hitting the ground, someone—my grandmother, my mother, my father, my uncle, me—picked them up, hoarding them in the refrigerator for a few days until there were enough to squeeze out a good supply of pulp.

And inevitably, that pulp became persimmon pudding.

I’m not sure how old I was when I realized that persimmons could be used for baked goods other than persimmon pudding: cookies, cakes, bars … even jelly. In my world, autumn meant persimmons, and persimmons meant persimmon pudding. (Our State magazine's November 2011 issue features an excellent article on persimmons and the Colfax Persimmon Festival, coming up on November 5.)

Only recently did I try my hand at making persimmon pudding. With my great-aunt Mildred’s recipe and a container of frozen pulp from my mother, I managed to create a pretty tasty pan of pudding.

And you might already know that persimmons hold another hidden ability … predicting the weather.

My grandmother always saved a few persimmon seeds, which she washed and dried, then—very carefully—cut in half lengthwise to see what the winter had in store. If the kernel inside was shaped like a spoon, there would be heavy, wet snows; a fork, a mild winter; and a knife, a “cutting” winter with icy winds.

I haven’t yet cut open a seed to see what the winter of 2011-2012 will bring. But as long as I have more persimmon pulp in the freezer, I’ll spend the season trying out new persimmon recipes. I wonder if anyone has ever made persimmon-filled fried pies … 

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