Last year we foraged wild (American) persimmons from an undisclosed location in our county. All the hippies we know seemed to be wild about the fruit, and having stumbled across a few trees we decided to give them a try. Persimmons being extremely astringent when not quite ripe, it was hard to gain a sense of what the fruit actually tasted like. But I collected them, made sure they were soft, and mushed them through a strainer (a process that took several hours to glean a total of two cups of pulp, making me suspect that the thrill of the chase has more to do with their underground popularity than any aspect of the fruits themselves).
Having collected the fruit in that way, I stuck the pulp in the freezer and tried to find out what to do with them. There seem to be two ways to use persimmon pulp: (1) in an English-style Christmas pudding and (2) in cookies. Because the pudding recipes I could find were heavy on the milk and best served with whipped cream, I was hesitant to go there. I didn’t want to waste my hard-scavenged persimmon pulp on a modified recipe that risked being terrible, but neither did I want to commit to something that I wouldn’t be able to eat. Also, cookies seemed kind of boring.
I stayed in this persimmon limbo for a year, and finally decided that I needed to make something with the pulp, if only to decide whether to forage again this year. After scouring the internet — by which I mean ‘using Tastebook‘ — I came up with two recipes for my first attempt. One is an English-style pudding, liberal on the brandy, which I’ll test when it gets cold and possibly make for my birthday (just as soon as I figure out how to rig up the steaming container). The other is a spice cookie recipe, advertised as ‘an old family recipe’ which I am hopeful means it was designed for use with native persimmons. The cookie recipe I made last night, with much effort — I locked up my touchy shoulder mixing up the dough; I recommend a mixer — and not a small amount of trepidation. The cookies turned out well, though, much to my relief. Substituting in canola oil and egg beaters worked fine; the persimmon flavor is not strong, but the texture is nice so even just as a spice cookie they’re enjoyable.