Jung's Persimmon Pudding
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The Persimmon begins to mature its fruits in early fall. Contrary to folklore a frost isn't necessary to ripen them though many trees do wait until frost to do so. The Persimmon tree is the only member of the Ebony family that occurs in our area. Its wood is dark, heavy and resists shock – which is why it's the wood of choice for golf clubs. The tree itself is relatively small – usually no more than forty feet in height – and is primarily an edge species found on uplands and hillsides. The tree produces large numbers of suckers which makes it unsuitable for most landscaping applications.
This is one of our largest, tastiest and most productive wild fruits – a fact borne out by the large variety of wildlife who seek it out. Deer, raccoons, possums, skunks, bees, wasps and birds of all sorts flock to ripe trees to indulge their sweet tooth. And while the ripe fruits are sweet, soft and delicious, the green ones are hard, firm, extremely astringent and completely inedible. If you decide to gather the fruits therefore wait until they fall from the tree.
This was also an important food plant for the Indian tribes who lived within its range. They would gather the fallen fruits and separate the sweet, squishy pulp from the large and numerous seeds and then smear a thick layer on smooth, clean sticks. When the pulp dried the resulting fruit "leather" was removed and cached for long-term storage.
Folklore claims that Persimmon seeds can predict the coming winter weather. To determine this it's necessary to split the seed in half and look at the light colored embryo inside. If done properly you should be able to see either a knife, fork or spoon. A spoon denotes lots of snow in the coming winter. A knife indicates a winter colder than normal, and a fork is supposed to mean we're in for a lot of ice storms. However after nearly forty years of attempting to divine winter weather this way I can say with absolutely no reservations that this particular method is completely useless.
The ripe fruit can be gathered, washed and run through a colander to separate the pulp from the seeds. The resulting pulp can be used in a variety of dishes. The recipe for one of my favorites – Jung's Persimmon Pudding.