A Pudding for the Holiday Season

December 28, 2015

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Persimmons are in season.  Briefly. I was just leafing through a 1978 issue of Gourmet, and came across an enchanting description of a wild persimmon hunt.  Do wild persimmons still exist in this country? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one at a farmers market.

According to this article Diospyros virginiana or “American persimmon” has properties similar to the hachiya persimmon; both contain tannic acids that give them a powerful astringent quality. Apparently if you want them at peak sweetness, you wait until after the first frost to harvest the fruit.  Given this year’s weather, that would be tomorrow.

American wild persimmons are smaller than the hachiyas you find in the market right now, but I’m sure any persimmon will work in this recipe. Marion Cunningham always sent me a persimmon pudding as a Christmas present, so this brought back a lot of memories. (This recipe, baked rather than steamed in a water bath, seems more like cake than pudding. Which is, in my opinion, another good reason to try it.)

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9 Comments

  • Doralece Dullaghan says:

    Ruth,
    I think you can get them in North Carolina near Chapel Hill as Bill Smith harvests them from a friend’s pasture where they grow wild and he uses them to make persimmon pudding for his restaurant Crook’s Corner.
    The pudding recipe is in his book, Seasoned in the South and has very similar ingredients. Delicious!

  • sue carlyle says:

    Hi, i bought Edna Lewis’s the Taste of Country Cooking for myself this Christmas, and she also has a Persimmon pudding – though hers is steamed and with a clear sauce.

  • Elizabeth Gay says:

    My family has lived in southern Indiana for generations. Persimmon pudding from wild persimmons is a holiday tradition. Many of us now live elsewhere, but there are requests every year for those in Indiana to ship frozen persimmon pulp for the holidays. Persimmon pudding, similar to the recipe here, is part of our heritage.

  • MD Smith says:

    Native persimmon trees are huge, so there are few backyard examples left. There is one on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, and during persimmon season I walk past at least twice a day to gather up fallen fruit. If you have land – plant a persimmon!

  • Jill wolder says:

    Miss Gourmet mag so much. This recipe brought back really good memories of how recipes used to be written. No list of ingredients , then directions. Makes you have to read the entire recipe carefully before proceeding!

  • Mari says:

    I love following you, so real. We had wild persimmon trees when I lived in St. Louis. We used to eat them right off the ground as they fell, as long as they were really soft and gory. SOO yummy. I do miss them, so much better then the ones shipped in from California or wherever. I do notice the ones that are shipped into Florida have no seeds, they always had at least 4 large seeds in each one. I guess that’s supposed to be progress.

  • I know this is a late reply, but I wanted to let you know I’ve seen persimmons at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market. I will ask my son about it – he is a forestry major in college and he’ll know if they faced any kind of widespread decimation.

  • witloof says:

    There is a farmer at the Union Square greenmarket that brings foraged wild persimmons in the fall and sells them dead ripe, for fifty cents apiece, limit two per person. I’ve been lucky enough to catch him on the one day he brings them in a couple of times. They’re like eating flowers.

  • MT says:

    This was delicious! And actually, persimmons grow in parts of California, too. My grandmother used to make a persimmon pudding every Christmas that was to die for. I brought back persimmons picked from my mother’s tree in Northern California and waited for them to ripen to make this pudding…and it was a big hit here in New York.

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