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Persimmon Pudding: A Southern Tradition Worth Preserving

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Persimmon pudding      
A Southern tradition worth preserving

By Holly Kozelsky, Martinsville Bulletin Accent Editor
Martinsville Bulletin, Wednesday, September 26, 2007 Issue

reprinted with permission

Three native persimmons shown resting on a dining plate from the oiginal Martinsville Bulletin article, "Persimmon Pudding: A Southern Tradition Worth Preserving" - used by permission.Featured Recipes:

  * Persimmon Buttermilk Pudding
  * Mama Nell’s Persimmon Pudding
  * Persimmon Pudding



The best things are those you have to work at a little harder to get, and that definitely is true for the Southern classic persimmon pudding.

There’s nothing quite like it. It’s a rich, satisfying dessert with a dense texture and a twangy, old-fashioned flavor.

Persimmons ripen at about this time — the beginning of autumn. It is said that they do better when they are bitten by frost.

I’ve seen large types of [Asian] persimmons, Fuyu and Hachiya, in the stores, but the real treat comes from ripened [native] persimmons that have fallen to the ground from local trees. The trick is knowing someone who has a persimmon tree and allows you to gather some. It’s worth the hunt. (Don’t be shy to ask around. It also does the tree owner a favor, since ungathered persimmons are messy and attract wasps.)

Persimmons are gathered from the ground beneath the tree. Choose persimmons that are ripe, clean and fresh-looking. It’s OK to choose persimmons with busted skin; the fruit is heavy and soft, and the fall to the ground often breaks the skin.

A half gallon of persimmons will yield about five cups of pulp, enough for two and a half recipes of pudding. Wash the fruit before extracting pulp.

If you can’t extract the pulp right away, store them in the refrigerator for a day.

To extract the pulp, use a metal colander or sieve. Set the colander over a bowl and put in about two cups of fruit at a time. Squish the fruit against the colander several times until the pulp goes through the holes into the bowl and the skin, seeds and cap remain in the colander.

You can make the pudding right away or freeze the pulp for later.

Here are three recipes. The first is from Libby Wilborn of Siler City, N.C., which I make every year as my birthday treat, and then again with frozen pulp at the holidays. The second, from Annelle Williams of Martinsville, was handed down to her from her grandmother “Mama Nell.” They both call for the small persimmons you find on local trees.

If you can’t find a persimmon tree, buy some of one of the large varieties and try the next recipe from “Joy of Cooking” by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker and Ethan Becker (Scribner, 1997). Be sure to let the persimmons ripen until they are mushy.

For a sinfully delicious version of either pudding, you could melt 1⁄2 cup butter (beyond what the recipe calls for) in the casserole dish you are going to cook the pudding in, and pour the batter into it. The butter will go to the top of the pudding, giving it a deliciously chewy exterior.

Persimmon pudding is delicious warm or cold. It may be topped with whipped cream or a lemon sauce.
 

persimmonpudding.com thanks author and editor Holly Kozelsky and the generous folks at Martinsville Bulletin for their permission (granted January 9, 2009) to run the article here on persimmonpudding.com.