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Wild Persimmon  Pudding

A pudding is milk plus sweetening with a key staple ingredient plus a binder, usually cooked. Our accountant, W. L. "Bill" Pickler, told me in 2003 how much he loved his aunt's wild persimmon pudding...she cooked him a recipe every November (she had died). To me, persimmons were wild fruit (Diospyros virginiana) which older children coaxed younger children into tasting before fully ripe. On doing so, the taster felt like the taste "made his mouth turn inside out". After marrying Betty and building on the farm she grew up on, I noticed several big persimmon trees...but did not have good luck at making persimmon pudding; now, the cows beat us to the fallen fruit. I can also recall that Betty's mother never mentioned having made any kind of persimmon desert (see below). Bill gave me a recipe by Jane Mull (Hickory, N. C.) from a 12/05 issue of the Charlotte Observer:

  •  milk: 1 & 3/4 cup.
  • sweetener: 1 to 1 & 1/2 cups sugar.
  • staple ingredient: 2 cups of persimmon pulp

  • binder:   
    1. 3 eggs, beaten.
    2. 2 cups all-purpose flour; 1/2 teaspoon baking soda; 3 tablespoons melted butter or margarine.
  • taste enhancer: vanilla, 1 teaspoon; salt, 1 teaspoon

The soft wild persimmons are picked up from the ground and washed & put through a metal fruit sieve (or, squeeze & "mush them up" to separate the big seeds out, possibly wringing them through a mesh bag such as a produce bag; or rub pulp through something like a colander). If some skin comes through with pulp, that is okay. Excess pulp can be frozen for later use. You can see some good information on YouTube.

Mix wet stuff together: the eggs and pulp together. Then mix dry stuff together: add flour, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Then mix dry into wet. Then stir in melted butter and vanilla. Then pour the mix into a greased or Pam-sprayed 13 by 9 inch baking pan and bake at 300 degrees for about an hour until "done" (when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean). Serve plain or with whipped cream topping. Store leftovers in refrigerator.

Experimenters: My mother-in-law's friend, Sara Stockman, is said to have had just a simple, general recipe for fruit pudding of  2 cups each of pulp, flour, and sugar...I presume some milk...and a teaspoon of cinnamon. Check the internet & note that some use spices in recipes (ground cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, or allspice). Raisins add taste variety and sweetness, but do so as discrete packets of taste released only as chewed. One can vary this recipe by adding other types of fruit (dried cranberries), nuts (pecans, walnuts), or taste enhancers or texture variants (maybe even some grape hulls!). And, one can make a "richer" desert by adding, say, milk plus cottage cheese (or other soft cheese), or half-and-half instead of milk, or even whipping cream instead of milk. Some puff it up a little with 1/4-1 teaspoon of baking powder. If the pudding gets too dry, serve with cream poured over it or ice cream on it, or Cool Whip or real whipped cream. The pulp can also be used to make fruit breads, pancakes, and molded salads.

BUT: I have tried two seasons to get enough pulp for some pudding or a pie (in the manner of pumpkin pie) and just found it way too much trouble to go through the whole process. On some future date, maybe I'll try with commercially grown persimmons!

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(posted 11 December 2005; updated 31 October  2009)