Persimmon, Food For The Gods
Lately during my lunch hours at work, I have been walking a path through the city park for exercise. It is a good time to walk and enjoy the color changing of the leaves. The oaks, maples and cotton woods are scattered throughout the grounds, with their leaves laying all about. At one bend there are sweet smelling pines that I pass. On the one hillside there stands a small grove of persimmon trees. The path is littered with its dropped fruit covered with flies sucking up the last of the persimmon juices. This particular tree always reminds me of my walks in the Kentucky woods with my Father and of his wisdom he would share.
My Father and Mother lived in Western Kentucky near the lakes. Before my Father’s heart and knees began to fail him, we would always walk the hills that looped through the land. He loved the land and all that it can provide for the People. Upon my many visits, I was always tapping into his knowledge of the plants and trees, among other things.
It seemed like every fall he would spot a persimmon tree and pull off a piece of fruit and taste it. Then he would talk about eating persimmons as a kid and how wonderful they tasted. He would speak of persimmon pudding and how he missed the treat. I knew in his heart he was thinking of his mother, my Grandmother whom I knew very little about. She died when I was about seven years old or so. She must have made the pudding my Dad loved so much.
About a month ago, my companion and I were near a river and woods and saw tons of persimmons. Remembering my father and his fondness for the fruit, I decided it was time for me to explore the making of persimmon pudding. We harvested a few branches of these small wild plum size apricot color fruit. We must of brought home about 150 of them.
I did some research on recipes and the plant itself. There are many varieties that grow all around the world and are held in high esteem for their nutritional value and taste. On this continent the fruit is given the Algonquin name of Possum Persimmon. The genus name is Diospyros Viginiana, meaning “food fit for the gods”.
I soon discovered the delightful taste of this fruit is best described as a cross between apricots and pears with a little hint of honey and a shadowy taste of plums. They are wonderfully delicious and leave the taste buds on the tongue longing for more.
In preparing the fruit I learned the most valuable lesson. First the fruit must be just ripe, the skin just swelling with the juices as they begin to sweeten or else there will be too much tannin, giving them a very bitter taste. In taking the sticky pulp, the seeds must be removed. Some of the seeds are large and easy to remove, but some of the seeds are tiny and stick stubbornly to the pasty jelly like pulp. To have enough pulp for one recipe, I had to work with about 75 of those little delicate balls of fruit. It took a lot of patience and time, about an hour to be exact, to accumulate 2 cups.
This “fruit fit for the gods”, can not be found at your local grocery store except for canned varieties, which do not compare to the fresh taste. The fruit is too delicate for transportation and too delicate for use with cast iron utensil which turn them black. They are best harvested after the first frost and can last on the trees well into the winter. The seeds can even be ground and used in place of coffee.
After tasting my finished dish, I immediately understood my Dad’s fondness for persimmons. Even more, after the experience of working with the fruit and the timeliness in the harvest, I learned how great and wonderful things come with patience and commitment. I truly felt like a goddess with each savory bite. As I reflect upon my Father’s lessons he always tried to teach with the examples of his life, I realized this is also one of the things he was always trying to teach me.
Sometimes in my life I try to hurry things up only to find I have cheapened the end result. But now, as I walk each day through the park and move to the hill with the stand of persimmon trees, I am reminded how great things come forth with proper time and attention. I am reminded the balance in life is really delicate and we need to understand those complexities that weave our lives into something fruitful and fitting for the gods….or in my life, fitting for the Creator.