Louisiana Persimmons

Autumn brings persimmons. And my persimmon tree is loaded with fruit this fall. Enough for the birds, squirrels, myself and neighbors.

When we were growing up in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, a wild persimmon tree grew along the road which we took  on our way home from school.  I remember one time as a young child being tempted to try a persimmon which dangled on the tree.  My mouth puckered and I ran home – It was a long time before I tried another one.

The persimmon tree in my back yard is a cultivated one — an oriental persimmon; probably Hachiya variety. It is an astringent variety, large and shaped like an acorn.

As it ripens the tannin breaks down, it becomes gelatinous and less astringent. It doesn’t hold it’s shape well when cooked and is best for cakes, puddings, custards. However, I baked slices of the persimmon with a pork roast and it was pretty good.

An easy recipe is to make a bundt cake substituting persimmons for bananas. A simple glaze finishes the cake off in style.

A second variety of persimmon is the Fuyu persimmon. It looks like a flattened tomato and is much smaller.  It is not astringent and can be used when firmer in salads, vegetable dishes and along with entrees–it holds it’s shape better. These are shown in the center of the photograph.

I’ve experimented with several recipes using persimmons. Last year I won second place in the Baton Rouge Green’s Organization’s recipe contest — contestants used fruit/nuts from a tree grown in Louisiana. I made an up-side-down cake.

This year I’m planning to enter a delectable and rich dessert: Bayou Persimmon Mud Pie. It is similar to the southern dish, Mississippi Mud pie, using vanilla pudding and persimmons in place of chocolate pudding.

Persimmons can be picked green. They easily ripen on my dining room table.  Just leave them in a warm spot, open to air. My tree is growing–can’t reach the high ones.

An unusual way to feature persimmons is added to ice cream. Here is Persimmon Ice Cream with Frangelico Liqueur. The recipes for the ice cream and cakes can be found on beyondgumbo.com.

Curious about persimmons?  Try one. Fall is the season. But be ready to pucker!


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