Mamacita says: Autumn is almost here – not quite, but almost – and it’s time to make persimmon pudding. Most of you don’t live where there are persimmons, and I’m betting that many of you don’t even know what a persimmon is. That’s probably not your fault, because 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 Carol 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. It’s a specialty. . . a delicacy, as it were, that you’ll seldom find outside the Midwest, and in southern Indiana, you’ll find the best of the best.
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.)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 C sugar (I use Truvia)
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 softened butter (not oil) (not margarine, either.)
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 preheated 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.
Oh, and by the way. . . the persimmon seeds are saying that it’s going to be a mild winter. That’s what I said. The persimmon seeds can predict winter weather. Try it and see.. It’s as reliable as the weatherman and maybe more so. At any rate, this method has been around a lot longer than the weatherman.
Just to be on the safe side – no weather prediction is to be trusted -, be sure you put your snow shovel where you can grab it quickly. Make sure everybody has warm coats and gloves. If you put salt on your driveway or sidewalks, buy it now before the snow starts and the prices go up. It’s also a good idea to make sure everybody at the office or factory or school or restaurant or whatever your place of business might be, knows the snow day policies. I tell my students that if the weather conditions are dangerous, to stay home, no matter what the radio announcer is telling them the official stance is. Nothing is worth a life.
However, if a student calls me at home and asks, I will always say “yes, come to class.” Because they’ve been told how to find out and I didn’t take them to raise. I also develop a mean streak when there’s a blizzard out there and someone phones me at 6 a.m. to ask me something that’s all over the radio AND on the syllabus AND was part of the lecture last week.
Oh, okay, I don’t really tell them that. But I do snarl. At that hour of the morning, I can be very snarly. How snarly? I hope you never find out.