It has been 60 years since my mother last tasted Persimmon Pudding, and things have changed quite a bit. For one, today’s persimmons do not resemble the small, knotty like fruit her mother used to gather off the ground in their yard this time of year. The seed in the middle is gone. The persimmon of today looks more like a pale, smashed- in tomato, than the bright, orange, golf ball sized delicacies my mother remembers. But that didn’t stop me from wanting to bake a persimmon pudding this Christmas, though, it almost didn’t come into being.
Persimmons are native to my home state of North Carolina, but that doesn’t mean they are easy to come by. Unless you have a friend with a persimmon tree, or know a local farmer who knows someone, who might know someone else, chances are you will have to search the supermarkets for the genetically-modified, supersized pieces of tart fruit, picked before they were ready for harvest so they could be ordered by a conglomerate, from parts hither and yon, and stocked in a warehouse ready to ship for the holidays. These heavyweight persimmons are far from what my mother knows well.
Everyone who has enjoyed a Persimmon Pudding knows persimmons are best once they have fell to the ground. This is when they are at their ripest. Picking them anytime sooner will give you nothing but hard fruit that will never be as good as when they are left alone to ripen beyond the ability of the skinny branches to hold them any longer. I can only hope the taste of the pudding will be close enough to what she remembers her mother baking up into a delicious, spiced dessert for Christmas. Topped with whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg…it just whispers all the comforts of Christmas and home.
Since I am without a yard of my own, I will have to make due with the supermarket variety and hope next year I can find a local vendor. If you are lucky enough to find persimmons in your area, then please give Persimmon Pudding a try. They are a Southern favorite and since persimmons have such a short harvest time, from November through December, this recipe is special.
Old South Persimmon Pudding
2 cups of persimmon pulp
3 eggs, well beaten
1 3/4 cups of whole milk
2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup of sugar
3 tbsp. butter
Whipped Cream for topping
Mix persimmon pulp, eggs, and milk together.
In a seperate bowl, sift together, flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.
Pour the persimmon mixture into the flour mixture and blend well. Add the melted butter and beat again.
Pour into a buttered 14x8x3″ pan.
Bake for 1 hour at 300*. Chill and cut into squares. Serve with a topping of whipped cream and a dash of nutmeg.