Discover Nature: Persimmons
September 20 - September 26
Discover Nature this week in a freshly picked, juicy persimmon.
I’ll never forget when I was eight years old and tasted a persimmon before it ripened. That bitter experience was unforgettable. However, if you learn when and how to pick, process, and cook Persimmons, you can Discover Nature in a whole new way.
Persimmon trees can be found in rocky or dry open woods, along the borders of woods, prairies and abandoned fields. They multiply quickly and can easily spread into a grove. Various persimmon trees will produce a varying quality of fruit, according to the Missouri Department of Conservation. So take your time, and sample the fruit of several persimmon trees to find your favorite.
To avoid the unripe bitter experience, a persimmon must be soft and mushy before you try a taste. Green persimmons will make your mouth pucker. Another tricky detail is that persimmon trees will ripen at different times. Some will be ripe before the first frost and others will keep their bitterness long into the fall.
Families make the best persimmon picking teams. One person can shake the tree while the others gather the fallen fruits from the ground.
Once you get your pick into the kitchen, you can use the pulp to make cakes, breads, cookies, puddings, pies, or even a Persimmon butter spread. You can also substitute persimmon for the pumpkin in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe.
Several Persimmon cooking strategies can be found at www.missouriconservation.org, by doing a search for “Persimmons”. One quick and easy way to prepare persimmons is to make “Persimmon Jerky”.
Spread the pulp thinly on a cookie sheet and dry it in a 250 degree open-door oven for an hour or a bit longer. Make sure it is completely dry, and then you can cut it into small squares for an on-the-go healthy fruit snack.