Did you know the weather can be predicted by a persimmon seed? Sure, it's true. If it looks like a fork, a spoon, or a knife it might mean heavy wet snow, or fluffy snow, or icy wind....or so they used to spin the lore in Missouri. Ah, the simple days...
The truth is, I have an unfulfilled obsession with our native american persimmon, Diospyros virginiana. It all started in college with a tall handsome tree. One of my botany professors first introduced me, and being a poor college kid, I realized there was an opportunity to forage for free food. Collect I did, happy to take the firm golden treasures home. What a great experiment it was, fleshing the seeds, for the remaining pulp. But oh, what an inedible surprise! The pucker!
But then there was the weekend visit to Brown County, Indiana one fall that made it all right...persimmon fudge, persimmon pudding, persimmon bread, persimmon...you get it. These foods were a wonderment, despite growing up in the midwest! Somewhere in a box I bet I still have a persimmon cookbook purchased that weekend. :-)
I had heard they needed to freeze first, before they'd be edible. So, fast forward a few years and I finally had the opportunity. I was invited to pick at a nearby orchard and to taste-test two varieties, Meade and Early Gold! The wrinkled fruits were soft and reminded me of apricots. They could be smashed falling to the ground when we shook the tree, but we could toss them down without injury. Some hung onto their limbs, hold outs for the season ahead. WE shook and and shook and shook the trees. This was not like an apple harvest - persimmons have very narrow grained wood that develops into ebony a a tree ages toward 100. There were quite a few grunts and groans and expressions of encouragement uttered toward the fruits.
The smashed ones were quickly eaten. It was Early Gold that was so melt-in-our-mouths tender. Their creamy flesh the essence of gold and their chewy skins stuck to our teeth. Occasionally, we'd pucker from the astringent qualities trying to determine, was it in the seeds or in the skin? But overall, we celebrated Fall's Gold Harvest.
The harvest was shared with friends, and the remainder shoved into the deep freezer for later. If you know where to find persimmon brandy or molasses, i'd love to know.
Meade persimmon is smaller, like the native one. Early Golden is larger and meatier. Our harvest of Early Goldens. Our harvest of Meade. The tree wasn't quite ripe yet, but we picked what could fall into our hands. Dividing the harvest of Early Goldens. A beautiful Early Golden.