A Passion for Persimmons | Print |  E-mail
Thursday, 29 November 2012 13:26

112912fA lot of people love them, but the truth is, most of us have never eaten a persimmon, even though 98 percent of the nation’s crop is grown right here in California.

For those in the know, ripe persimmons are delicious eaten raw, but persimmon purée is the secret ingredient in their fall baking. The subtle flavor blends well with spices and nuts and it contributes a rich orangy-brown color to baked goods as well as ensuring tender, moist results.

There are two main kinds of persimmons. The Hachiyas, which are acorn-shaped, cannot be eaten until they are ripe and have become very soft with an almost mousse-like texture. They are usually used in baking. Fuyus are round and flattish and can be eaten when firm. They are best for salads.

Many recipes call for persimmon purée. To make it, pull off the leathery base from your Hachiya and cut it in half vertically. Using a spoon, scoop the pulp from the skin. Discard skin and any seeds. Whirl the pulp in a blender until smooth.

Despite their rich taste, persimmons are low in fat and calories, and high in fiber.

PERSIMMON-OATMEAL COOKIES

1-1/2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

3/4 teaspoon cinnamon

3/4 cup shortening

1 egg, beaten

1 cup persimmon purée

1-3/4 cup quick oats

1/2 cup chopped nuts

1/2 cup chopped raisins

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, soda, salt and spices. Cut in shortening. Blend in egg, persimmon pulp and oats. Beat until thoroughly blended. Stir in nuts and raisins. Drop by tea-spoonsful 1-1/2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. Makes about 40 cookies.

OLD-FASHIONED PERSIMMON PUDDING

1 cup persimmon pulp

1 cup sugar

3 eggs, beaten

1 cup flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup milk

1/4 pound butter or margarine, melted

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine persimmon pulp with sugar. Beat in eggs.

Sift or stir flour with baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk and butter. Mix with persimmon mixture.

Pour batter into a well-greased 9-inch-square cake pan and bake in a 300-325°F oven for 35 minutes. Yields 9 squares.

PERSIMMON & SPINACH SALAD

2 tablespoons orange marmalade

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon toasted (dark) sesame oil

Salt and pepper

1-1/4 pounds baby spinach leaves rinsed and crisped

3 Fuyu persimmons (about 5 ounces each), peeled and sliced into thin wedges

3/4 cup glazed pecans

In a large bowl, mix vinegar, marmalade and sesame oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add spinach, persimmons and pecans. Mix gently to coat with dressing. Assemble the salad shortly before serving. Yields about 12 servings.

Glazed pecans are available in the nut section of most supermarkets.

FUYU PERSIMMONS WITH YAMS

1 pound red yams or sweet potatoes

2 to 3 teaspoons butter

Salt and white pepper

1 large Fuyu persimmon (4 to 5 ounces) stemmed and peeled

3 tablespoons fresh orange juice

1 to 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoon brandy

Steam yams or sweet potatoes until tender. Set aside to cool. Peel and cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Preheat oven to 400°F. Grease a shallow baking dish big enough to hold the sweet potatoes in a single layer with a little of the butter. Arrange sweet potatoes in dish and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cut the persimmon into 1/4-inch slices. Place slices atop sweet potatoes. Pour orange juice over all. Sprinkle with brown sugar and drizzle brandy over the top. Dot with remaining butter. Bake until potatoes are bubbly and persimmons are just tender, about 20 minutes. Serves 4.

POACHED PERSIMMONS

6 firm-ripe Fuyu persimmons, (about 1-1⁄2 pounds)

1⁄2 cup dry white wine

3⁄4 cup orange juice

1⁄4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon fresh ginger root, peeled and minced

1⁄4 teaspoon cinnamon

Stem and peel the persimmons, discard any seeds, and cut each persimmon into 8 wedges.

In a saucepan, combine the persimmons, wine, orange juice, sugar, ginger root and cinnamon; bring the liquid to a boil, stirring occasionally, and simmer the mixture, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the persimmons are tender.

Transfer the persimmons with a slotted spoon to a bowl; boil the syrup until it is reduced to about 1⁄2 cup and pour it over the persimmons. The persimmons may be served warm or chilled over ice cream, rice pudding or bread pudding. Makes 6 servings.

PERSIMMON BREAD

1 cup raisins

1/2 cup brandy

1/2 cup sugar

2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

2 cups persimmon purée

1 cup vegetable oil

4 eggs

4 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°F. Lightly grease and flour two 9-by-5-inch or three 8-by-4-inch loaf pans.

Put the raisins in the brandy and set aside. Combine the sugars, persimmon pulp and oil. Add eggs, one at a time; beat well after each addition. Sift together the dry ingredients into a medium bowl. Add to the egg mixture and stir in the brandied raisins and nuts.

Pour into greased pans. Bake for 1 hour (a bit longer for the 9-inch pans). Be sure to test with a toothpick to make sure the bread is done. You may have to adjust the cooking time. Makes about 18 slices.

FREEZER PERSIMMON JAM

5 cups pureed Hackhiya persimmons

3 cups white sugar

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 pinch ground nutmeg

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, combine persimmon purée, sugar, lemon juice, orange zest and nutmeg. Boil for 30 minutes, or until slightly thickened.

Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Store in the freezer. Yields 6 cups.

Persimmon jam makes a wonderful holiday breakfast treat when spread on hot biscuits.

 

 


 

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