Friday Forage – Persimmon

20151006_160937I’ve mentioned persimmons a couple of times already but today I want to tell you all about them.  Before moving to the Ozarks, I had never seen a wild persimmon.  Yes, I’d occasionally seen the funny tomato looking fruit sold in grocery stores that is also called a persimmon but they are different then the native persimmons

In the grocery you might find either Fuyu or hachiya persimmons (both asian varieties) (link to google images).  One is the firm-ish red/orange tomato looking fruit and the other is a little more elongated and resembles a small Roma tomato.  Neither of these are the persimmons native to my region.  Around here we have the native or “common” persimmon called Diospyros virginiana L.  These persimmons are different from the grocery variety;  first, being native, they are naturally pest and disease resistant.  Also, while the two varieties above may be eaten when still slightly firm, native persimmons are not edible until they are kinda mushy and most say that it is the first frost that makes them edible (those in Florida disagree on the frost theory).

I was pretty excited to find persimmons on our land because of their usefulness.  Not only does it provide an edible fruit but its’ wood is prized for it’s density, hardness, and smoothness.  It is often used by woodworkers for turning projects as well as golf club heads and weaving shuttles.  Also, it’s bark may be medicinal and it’s fruit can be used as an inedible ink (something else I’ll have to try).

As an edible, unripe persimmons are VERY astringent or, in layman terms, one tiny taste will make your whole 20151006_161120mouth feel as though it’s grown fur.  On the other hand, a ripe persimmon is very sweet, almost candy like.  They are also very mushy.  In fact, a persimmon isn’t generally ripe until it falls off of the tree and splats on the ground20151008_114527 below.  The only way I’ve found to harvest them is to lay out a tarp or sheet under the tree and wait for the fruit to fall.  You must pick up the fallen fruit a couple of times a day because bugs and wildlife love them.  If you leave any pieces until morning you will find only seeds left on your tarp. Speaking of persimmon seeds, folklore suggests a cut open persimmon seed will accurately predict your winter conditions: a fork suggests little snow or ice where as a spoon means lots of shoveling and a knife means ice.  Looks like we are in for a lot of shoveling this year :-/  Guess we better stock up a little more firewood 🙂

Since we had a few persimmons ripen this weekend, I wanted to try my hand at persimmon jelly.  The bright orange pulp of the fruit seems to be begging to be made into a clear orange jelly however, I was having a difficult time finding a jelly recipe. It seems most people make this delicacy into jam or pudding except for one persimmon jelly experiment  Hmmmm…. The scientist in me couldn’t resist 🙂

20151008_120539I don’t really have results for my experiment yet, the jars are setting and I can only hope that they eventually jell (maybe this is why there are no recipes).  However, I can tell you that what I made did turn into a beautiful pinkish liquid though, it is not the clear jelly I had hoped for.  I can also tell you this: taste a bit of each persimmon you add to your dish, one unripe fruit will probably ruin your whole batch.  Also, the pulp, so far, is not a texture I enjoy so I strained my pulpy juice twice.  I have a few other ideas up my sleeve for the remaining pulp 🙂

In the mean time, I started wondering if there was a way to force-ripen the fruit.  Most sources said no  but, I did find a few suggestions, some more palatable then others (google ripen persimmon dung smoke).  This weekend I will attempt one of the alcohol methods and let you know how that turns out.  I’ll also be adding persimmon to my ink project. so, stay tuned to see how my persimmon experiments turn out.

In the mean time, forage on my friends 🙂

~Happy Meandering~

PS: chickens happen to love persimmons


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