It’s beginning to edge onto autumn (translation: it will soon be autumn) and here in southern Indiana, and that means it’s time to start thinking about persimmons. It’s time to think about pawpaws, too, but this post is about the persimmons.
I bet most of you don’t even know what that is.
Persimmons don’t grow in too many places; however, southern Indiana is a persimmon tree’s favorite home, and the trees grow healthy and prolific here. In this community, most people pick the persimmons off the ground and run them through a special grinder to make the pulp. We can also buy commercially frozen pulp at any grocery store here, but it’s not fit to eat that way, and it’s best to use pulp you made, yourself, or that someone else just made. It keeps in the freezer for several years. My fantastic and generous Cousin C gives me persimmon pulp, fresh from her parents’ back yard, and I make homemade bread for her family. I think I get the better part of the deal.
That’s right. In southern Indiana we just go out in somebody’s back yard and pick persimmons up out of the dirt. They’re best that way, and we rinse them off before we grind them up.
You pays your money and you takes your chances.
Hoosiers use persimmon pulp for many delightful things, but the favorite by far is persimmon pudding. I made some just today. Come on over.
Hint: Don’t EVER taste a green persimmon, unless you like the sensation a blast of raw alum gives to your lips and tongue. Persimmons must be ripe before they can be used. VERY ripe. Asking someone you’re mad at to just “touch your tongue to this green persimmon for a second” is a fun, albeit cruel (depending on the age of the taster) trick to play on someone. Raw alum on the tongue. Yum. It’s a sensation vaguely akin to being turned inside out by the tongue.
On second thought, everybody should try that at least once. How else can you appreciate the fun of doing it to someone else? It’s scientific. Besides, until you try it, you won’t believe the sensation. It’s really not easily describable.
By request (ask, and ye shall receive) here is my very own tried-and-true persimmon pudding recipe again. I’ve tweaked it over the years until it became perfection in a pan.
Hoosiers can be very protective and possessive of their persimmon pudding recipes, but I’m not. People always ask me for it, so here it is:
Jane’s Persimmon Pudding
First of all, preheat your oven to 325 degrees. NO HOTTER.
Get out a very large bowl.
Put the following ingredients in it:
2 C. persimmon pulp (Use fresh or frozen; the canned stuff is terrible.)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 C sugar (I use Splenda)
1 C brown sugar (don’t use fake) (It’s brown sugar, so there are no calories.) (Shut up.)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt (don’t leave it out!!!!) (don’t use fake salt, either.)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
2 C flour
2 1/2 C evaporated milk (not sweetened milk)
1/4 cup butter (not oil) (margarine works, but butter is better)
Put everything in that large bowl and mix thoroughly. Use an electric mixer if you don’t think you can get it blended by hand. Get the lumps out.
Pour mixture into a large buttered baking pan.
Put the pan in the oven. Set your timer for 60 minutes.
After the timer goes off, stick a toothpick in the center of the pudding. Clean? It’s done.
Let it cool just enough to slice. Most people like to top it with whipped cream. Non-Hoosiers often sprinkle nuts on it.
You can also add coconut or pecans or cocoa to the mixture, but then it’s not Hoosier Persimmon Pudding. Your call.