Persimmon Season

January 10, 2010

It is the end of persimmon season in Oakland.  My neighbor’s persimmon forest, at least six thickly leaved  trees with branches hanging low to the ground with fruit, so thick that you couldn’t see their houses through the forest, my neighbors persimmon forest is bare now.  I can wave to them when they sit on the back porch, and I saw for the first time an old school desk sitting in the clover that they let spread in the rainy season and is growing over an orange crate under one of the trees.

Persimmon season is not yet over in other parts of  Northern California.  They come to the farmers market and to the little grocer on Lakeshore from Sacramento and other valley farm lands in the East Bay food shed.

Two weeks ago I was roped into buying 5 pounds of fuyu’s, wrapped up in a plastic grocery bag, for $3.  Who could say no to that?  Well, my husband could have, but I didn’t give him a chance.

The firm ones went in the fruit basked, he ate them like apples.  A line of them sat perched in the kitchen window to let soften, and at least two pounds lived in a paperbag that was shuffled around the kitchen floor with groans from Mr. Oakland Kitchen.

There was persimmon bread (like zucchini bread), persimmon pie (like pumpkin pie), persimmon flan (no crust, more eggs), persimmon bars (like lemon bars), and my favorite and final persimmon discovery, persimmon sauce.

Persimmon sauce simmering on the stove

This morning, I cooked the last of the mushy persimmons into a second batch of persimmon sauce.  The first, served over bread pudding on a whim one evening, was so popular that it was deemed worthy of the last persimmons.  It’s simple and delicious, primarily because, as I discovered, a generous serving of  nutmeg and a bit of meyer lemon is the best way to season persimmon anything!

Here’s the recipe, adapted from http://www.persimmonpudding.com
1 Cup persimmon pulp, pureed
zest and juice of 1/2 of a fresh lemon (Meyer lemon courtesy a neighbor)
1 Tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
Generous dash ground nutmeg
Sugar or honey to taste

In sauce pan, combine pulp and remaining ingredients.  Sweeten to taste. Simmer on low heat until the sauce is reduced by about half. If sauce is too thick, add a little orange juice.  I’m sure there is a way to get it nice and smooth, but the texture of my attempts is similar to apple sauce.

We served it over walnut pancakes this morning.  (Walnuts are available at the farmers market year round, today we saw them in the shell at Jack London Square FM, as is honey.)

Fellow Funk Town Farmer, Jess, has also developed some very popular persimmon baked goods for our weekly Funk Town Fundraiser in the local church cafe.  Here are links to her amazing-and-slightly-tipsy persimmon bread and gone-in-a-flash-at-any-price persimmon cookies.

Jess’s Persimmon Bread.  A recipe by David Lebovitz adapted from James Beard’s Book of Bread.

Jess’s Persimmon Cookies.  From the Mennonite Cookbook “Simply in Season.”


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5 Responses to “Persimmon Season”

  1. Trina said

    I live in Ranger, Tx and have came across a persimmon tree on my property. I had no idea what the tree was at first and the fruit were green at the time. I picked one and brought it up to my public library to research and try to find out what it was, when I came across your website. Thank you for the recipes I really enjoy making jelly from the fruits I find on my land. I have wild plum bushes, blackberries, and now persimmons. 🙂

    • betsyj said

      You have marvalous fruit in your yard! Wild plum and blackberries are also a great jam combination, on their own or with a little cabernet red wine. Enjoy your bounty, and share any preserving recipes you come up with, all three of those fruits are abundant here in Oakland, too. Cheers!

  2. Elana Nashelsky said

    I wonder where these persimmons are located? I’m an Oakland resident and would love to bring persimmons to my students in Oakland, many of whom have never tried them!

    • betsyj said

      Elana,
      Our neighbors (near Lake Merritt) have three beautiful trees that are totally bare now, they’ve lost all their fruit AND leaves. It certainly feels like fall is becoming winter when I see those bare branches the first week of December. However, I found persimmons at the Grand-Lake Farmers Market on Saturdays through out the winter last year. Maybe you can go by next Saturday (from 9am-2pm under the 580 Overpass) and find a few? There is a vendor who sets up along the side walk with lots of citrus and recently had persimmons, too. They are further east and seem to have a longer season then my neighbors. 🙂
      Good luck!
      Betsy

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