One of the great benefits of shopping at the farmers market is generally around the time something is going out of season. My particular favorite time this happens is at the end of tomato season… I’ve found good heirloom tomatoes for $1 per pound! You also see this happen often with fruit crops where the farms will sell their blemished, fallen to the ground, or as one of my favorite vendors so gently puts it, “cosmetically challenged” fruits for a great price. The only down side to this is that it needs to be used up right NOW!
If you recall, I found this: A bag of very ripe Fuyu persimmons for $1. There is something about a large bag of produce for $1 that pulls me in with magnetic force. I was compelled to buy them. It didn’t matter that I knew virtually nothing about this delicate fruit.
Saturday morning rolls around and I have bag of persimmons that must be used. I spent some time photographing these cute little buggers before scooping out the the pulp of the really mushed ones. Which then quickly morphed into turning them all into pulp. In the end I ended up with 4 cups of beautiful softly sweet persimmon pulp.
Now what to make. The interwebs told me I bought the ones that are not desirable for baking. The fuyu are more astringent than their counterparts, hachia. Fuyus are also best eaten firm, not over ripe like hachias are. No matter, I had 4 cups of pulp sitting on my counter that I was going to do something with.
The common thing to do with persimmons seems to fall into three categories: bread, cookies, and English style puddings. All of which are laced with some combination of nutmeg, cinnamon, and cloves. While I have no problem with those kinds of baked goods, I was a bit concerned they were going to turn into spiced baked good. I then pulled out the Flavor Bible to find their flavor affinity which turns out to be allspice + cinnamon + ginger.
Given that I had 4 cups of pulp, I took this as the perfect opportunity to explore. Why not do a bread, cookie, and a pudding? With a little scaling back on the recipe size I could easily make all three. And with church being the next day I knew I had a great place to share the results.
A pudding seemed like an absolute must for persimmons. But it is not the american creamy whole milk kind of pudding. Instead, a steamed cake. I liked the recipe from Simply Recipes because it contained the persimmon flavor affinity and it didn’t require a water bath for baking. Afterall, I had two other things to make.
The result… it reminded me of pumpkin pie without the crust. It had that same dense, creamy, spiced taste to it. Kind of “meh” when you aren’t looking for pumpkin pie.
I often make recipes from David Lebovitz. What can I say, his stuff is consistently great. So doing a bread from James Beard that has a big splash of cognac, bourbon or whiskey was an easy pick. For the record, I used scotch because that is what we have.
The result… a great quick bread if you enjoy the taste of the alcohol you put in it. Not surprising, the alcohol and nutmeg combined erased any trace of persimmon. It’s as if the persimmon was just there to add moisture. If that is the case then why not use a cheaper/easier to get applesauce instead of the pricy, very seasonal persimmon. Tasty nonetheless. Great with tea or coffee.
I have to admit, I wasn’t expecting much from this cookie recipe. But my goodness we have a winner! While these are spiced, there was enough hint of persimmon to make you go, “what is that?” The batter turns a beautiful orangish color and is incredibly tasty. And the cookies? So soft and moist. I could totally see this recipe being the base for an awesome cake/cupcake thing.
The result… must make again!
All in all the recipes basically did what I was expecting them to do. That is, turn into a spice cake of sorts with no real highlight of persimmon. I was talking to Liv after the fact and she suggested going in the direction of a mouse/whipped/very delicate and light kind of dish. Basically being conscious not to introduce overpowering flavors. And I agree. I would love to develop something that highlights the very delicate flavor of the persimmon. I guess that is for next season as these were the last of the last. It was a fun experiment and proved to be a good challenge with a fruit I am not very familiar with.