Persimmons and I have a love-hate kind of relationship.
For the longest time, persimmons have been one of my most vivid memories of my Grandma Mary. She passed away one week before Beckett was born and has been a constant presence in my life, before her death and afterwards. In her front yard in California is a massive persimmon tree. The orange globes would ripen every fall and bow the tree’s branches down low enough for me to reach. Her turquoise countered kitchen would waft of the smell of freshly baked persimmon cookies and each supremely moist morsel would make your knees buckle. Persimmons were my Grandmother.
The tree lives on. Grandma’s memories live on. And, so this October I took advantage of the bounty that fills the tree each fall.
For something so sweet, my other memories of these orange globes were unpleasant to the say the least. For all the sweet deliciousness of the cookies, there was the tongue-numbing and mouth-altering feelings of chowing down on a whole persimmon. It is a horrible sensation. The polar opposite of what my Grandma could turn a persimmon into.
With a bushel full of persimmons and a determination to bring out their sweet potential, I set to making the most of my bounty. I wanted to relive those good memories. And, I wanted to make my Grandma proud.
Persimmons: The Ins & Outs
The two most common types of persimmons found in North America are the Fuyu and the Hachiya. Both varieties are orange in color.
Persimmons are harvested in October or November, when their color has developed, but they are still hard. The green calyx (stem portion) is left on the fruit when it is removed from the tree.
- The Fuyu is not an astringent (mouth numbing) and is distinguished by its short squat stature.
- Fuyu persimmons can be used right after picking or allowed to ripen at home. They can be sliced and peeled and added to salads.
- The Hachiya is a strong astringent when raw and is primarily used for baking. The fruit has a heart shape with an elongated end.
- When fully ripe it has a very sweet flavor and makes wonderful cakes, puddings, jams and cookies.
- Allow the fruit to fully ripen on the counter at room temperature. The fruit is full ripe when it is beyond squishy. The inside will feel almost liquidy – like the only thing holding it together is the skin.
- You can prep the fruit by cutting it into quarters and then scraping the flesh out from the skin.
- The flesh can be frozen in plastic baggies. It will sweeten over time. Or, if you are like me – you can freeze it in November, muddle through four miserable months of pregnancy sickness and emerge ready to bake cookies!
After spending hours perusing the internet for just the right recipe, I decided to look in my recipe book (I blame my the lateness of my *ahah* moment on pregnancy forgetfulness and hormones). And, lookie-loo at what I found there…
THE recipes from Grandma Mary for Persimmon Cookies and Persimmon Pudding. In her handwriting and on her recipe cards.
I hope that you enjoy these as much I have. They are sublimely sweet thanks to a healthy heap of persimmon pulp. And, there is an intensely yummy spicyness that reminds me of fall. The moistness has hints of cake and the color is beautiful combination of flecked oranges and browns. I’m personally not a nut person when it comes to cookies, but chopped fine – you can’t skip the walnuts on this recipe.
Do you have a favorite old-time recipe from way back? I’d love to see you share ‘em here!