LOCAVORE’S DELIGHT: The Series #25. Follow us as we explore the bounty of our region’s farms.
There’s a story about persimmons in the new Louvin brothers book. A young Ira couldn’t shake a persimmon off a tree, so he convinced his brother Charlie to get an ax, chop it down, and snag the fruit. Together they ate all the persimmons and tried to prop up the tree again, like nothing happened. Their father’s punishment for chopping that tree down was notoriously severe, but so was the persimmon revenge: the boys got sick.
Around mid October, it’s not uncommon to see tarps and straw beds under persimmon trees, and folks (musicians or not) trying to shake them down. Chef says you don’t pick persimmons, you pick them up off the straw. And local musician Scott Manring says “anything bigger than your thumb with fur on it” will eat a persimmon. He once watched a deer stand on its hind legs to eat persimmons off his tree. Scott himself will climb to the tree tops, shake down a bag’s worth, and bring them to Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen.
The Native American persimmon
The indigenous Native American persimmon is a kind of muted, autumn peach. The fruit is tear-dropped shaped and grows in wonderful, beautiful trees. It’s also so intolerably astringent if it’s under ripe that it will ruin anything you make.
Cooking: The Native American persimmon needs to fully ripen on the tree. The fruit will be soft and mushy and most persimmon recipes require cooking, such as persimmon pudding.
The fuyu persimmon can be eaten unripe, just like a tomato. Its flavor is sort of a peachy-tomato cross. At the grocery store, look for the persimmon with a flat bottom, that’s a fuyu. The redder it gets, the sweeter it is. There are some wonderful salads with poached shrimp and under ripe fuyu persimmons that are sublime.
Cooking: Slice it thin, or wedge it, and add it to a salad. Or, add to your purée.
Needs to fully ripen on the tree before being eaten, should be treated just like and indigenous persimmon, yet has a much higher flesh to seed ratio.
In the kitchen: Persimmon BBQ sauce and Persimmon Pudding
The traditional dish for persimmons is persimmon pudding — a very humble mixture of persimmon puree, flour, eggs, and sugar. Most persimmons come our way because people bring them to us. When the fall menu is over, we freeze them and use them for sauces and pudding on New Year’s Eve.
We’ve decided to make teriyaki sauce and fold persimmon purée into it and use it for a quail glaze. It’s a sweet purée and we use it like we would a peach BBQ sauce.
It’s also an integral component of the hard sauce that is served with our bread pudding (with the peach flavor of Southern Comfort to amplify the subtle taste of persimmons).
I don’t know of anyone farming persimmons, but many farms have a persimmon tree, and bring their persimmons to us.
- Bradd’s Family Farm
- Schicker’s Acre
- Scott Manring, one of the featured musician’s at Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen’s “Songs in a Southern Kitchen” series
We recently visited Scott’s persimmon trees in Pleasant Garden to get a few persimmon “pick-up” tips.
- Persimmon tree wood is among the strongest and used to make the highest quality heads of golf clubs known as the “wood.”
- Hard, unripe persimmons will fall to the ground, and taste terrible, “like putting a piece of cotton in your mouth.”
- Scott puts tarps on the ground, instead of straw. It’s easier to roll persimmons up in a tarp and bag them.
- The tree is getting too thick to shake, so Scott either climbs the tree to shake persimmons down, or uses a rope to pull on it.
- After a hard frost the color of the persimmon gets grapey-looking.
- A ripe persimmon is ooey-gooey, and usually splits a little when it hits the ground.
- Bob Reeves, a local musician and piedmont renaissance man, puts a sweet potato and a little orange zest in his persimmon pie. He uses an old pulp mill to separate the persimmons from dirt and twigs.
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Recipes
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Persimmon Glaze
- 1 tbsp canola oil
- 1 ½ tbspginger puree
- 2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 pound light brown sugar
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup Tamari
- ¼ cup chopped green onions
- 2 ½ cups chopped fresh persimmons, hulls removed
Heat oil in a pot over medium heat and sweat ginger. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened, about 35 minutes. Puree with an immersion blender and strain through a fine strainer.
*Quality Identifiers: sauce should be free of skins and seeds and should coat the back of a spoon.
Makes 5 cups
Lucky 32 Southern Comfort Persimmon Hard Sauce
- ¾ cup fresh persimmon pulp
- 2/3 lb butter – room temperature
- 3 ¾ cup confectioners sugar 10X (add more for thicker sauce)
- 5 each egg yolks
- 7 fl ounces Southern Comfort (or your favorite)
Heat persimmons over medium-high heat. Add butter and begin to melt. Add sugar. Cream butter and sugar, and stir until all of the butter is absorbed and a smooth consistency is achieved. Remove from heat. Stir in one egg yolk at a time until all yolks have been incorporated. Gradually pour in Southern Comfort while stirring constantly. Sauce will thicken as it cools.
Makes – 3 ½ cups
Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen Persimmon Pudding
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 3 fresh eggs
- 1 ½ cups sugar
- 2 cups pureed fresh persimmon with hull removed
- 1 ½ cups Scuppernong wine
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 2 ½ tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Sift together flour, baking soda, salt and spices. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mix eggs and sugar until well combined. Add pureed persimmon, wine and buttermilk and mix to combine. Stir in butter and vanilla. Grease a baking pan with pan spray. Add liquid mixture to flour mixture and combine well by hand. Transfer mixture to greased pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until center is set and sides begin to pull away from pan. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Makes – 6 portions
Posted November 2012