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Monday, October 31, 2011

Persimmon pudding -- a family Thanksgiving tradition

When most people think of dessert treats for Thanksgiving, images and thoughts of pumpkin pies come to mind. For others it is persimmons and persimmon pudding.
For many, persimmon pudding is as traditional as that oven browned turkey and pumpkin pies with a bit of whipped cream on the top.
However, persimmon pudding probably is losing the popularity battle as persimmon pulp is harder to come by these days. There is canned pulp available as some specialty stores. It's OK, but it's not as tasty as the home grown and process pulp. (My opinion).
This year, there reportedly is a shortage of pumpkins. But if you are willing to pay a little more, there are plenty for both Halloween and Thanksgiving and Christmas pies.
Persimmons are one of the most popular items harvested in the fall, although other fruits of interest include the pawpaw, wild grape, elderberry, and wild cherry. These can be picked while on a fall hunting trip for squirrels or a fishing trip, or they can be hunted and picked on any fall hike or outing.
Many people have their favorite persimmon tree grove where they gather their fruit.
Persimmons apparently were an Oriental tree and imported to this country many years ago. Animals, including possums which love them, have helped spread the seeds in many areas.
The persimmon tree has gray, fissured bark. Once you learn the tree, they are easy to identify.
Persimmons should be picked from the ground and not the tree. If picked from the tree, they may be what we always have called “puckery”. One not fully ripe will leave the inside of your mouth with an awful taste and make the inside feel as though it puckers. Some people shake the persimmons from smaller limbs, but there is a danger of getting some puckery ones included in your picking.
Persimmons can be used to make wine. To process them is easy. You just look them over in the kitchen. Wash them off and make sure they are clean. Then squash and drop skins, seeds and all into the container where you make your wine.
However if you plan to use them to make persimmon pudding, cookies or pies or to save and freeze for later, much more work is involved. The biggest problem is getting out the seeds. They are sizable, but difficult to easily remove. The skins and stems also must be separated. They need to be run through a colander or Victoria strainer,  and that is a work of love, but one well worth doing. I
Here is a persimmon pudding recipe::
Ingredients -- 2 cups persimmon pulp, 2 cups sugar (granulated), 2 cups milk, 2 cups flour, 3/4 stick of margarine or butter,1 teaspoon cinnamon, three eggs, pinch of salt, and one-half teaspoon of soda.
Melt the butter and stir into the pulp. Then stir in flour, sugar, salt, soda, and cinnamon in that order, and stir it well.
Pour the mixture into a nine by 13-inch cake pan, and bake for one hour in an oven that has been preheated to 350 degrees. It can be served with whipped cream, or it can be cut into squares and eaten with the hands, although you may have to lick your fingers afterward.
There are a number of other recipes. My mother-in-law always made a pudding that was less like a cake and more like a soft pudding to be eaten with a spoon. Either way it is delicious.
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Contact writer Phil Junker by email at:

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