30, 2003 - Richard Persimmons' Fruity Aerobics
don't know about other people but I've gotten to the point
where it's impossible to pass the preponderance of plump persimmons,
pleading to be picked. Consequently, I pick a passel, pounds
per day. Perchance you are perplexed, pondering the practical
purpose to which this profusion of persimmons might be put. Well
ponder no more. Presenting Richard Persimmons' (one of my numerous
noms de cuisine)...
Texas Aerobic Persimmon Butter
Gather persimmons while ye may. Now's the time, the peak
of perfection in plumpness and sweetness. We're talking
about wild, native Texas persimmons here. These gnarly,
smooth-barked, light gray trees are known more for their
wonderful, super-hard wood (sometimes called "ironwood").
I love them for the way they look and would be happy
to have them just for their decorative properties. Getting
fruit from these trees is a stupendous, seasonal bonus.
are small fruit, green and round, ranging in size from
a dime to a quarter.
turn black when ripe. Don't pick them before they ripen.
If they contain even a little green it's best to leave
them on the tree. Or even (gasp!) toss them if you happen
to mistakenly pick unripe fruit. Most of the time, if
they come off the branch easily, they are good (unless
they are squished, wrinkled or show evidence of bird
pecks or ant infestations). It doesn't matter how many
you pick. This is a totally scaleable recipe.
Use a measuring cup to put the picked persimmons into
a pot. Add about 1-2 ounces of water (not critical) for
each cup of persimmons. Start to heat up the pot on a
low to moderate heat. While it heats up, mash the fruit
with a potato masher. Mash it good (this is the aerobic
part). Your goal here is to get the delicious pulpy meat
of the fruit separated from the stringy skin and slightly
astringent seeds (which are plentiful).
After it's mashed and heated up for a while (like 5-10
minutes) and stirred occasionally to prevent sticking,
push the goo through a big strainer into a bowl, mashing
some more and getting out as much juice and pulp as possible.
Transfer the strained liquid into a pot. I use another
pot so I can strain is small batches, leaving the unstrained
in the original pot.
Cook on a low heat with no cover, stirring frequently,
to reduce down to the consistency of your choice. Butter
takes maybe a half hour, depending on the volume. Syrup
takes less time. Juice takes the addition of a little
extra water and hardly cooking at all. All are good
and have their uses.
put the finished product up using traditional canning
methods: Pour the hot stuff into sterilized jars, put
on the lids and boil in a canner for about 10 minutes.
Pull them out and when the lids pop, they are canned
and should keep for a long time. These 14 jars are less
than half of what I've put up so far this season. I ain't
stopping 'til the trees stop popping.
so now you are stuck with all these jars of goopy black stuff.
Oh my, what to do?
Use like jelly, with peanut butter on bread.
B) Put on ice cream.
C) Stir into milk.
D) Use the syrup in a marinade for fish or meat before cooking. I have
done this with salmon and it's scrumptious.
E) Those are all great but here's my fave:
peppers with persimmon sauce:
1) I've done this with Giant Marconi banana peppers that we grow and
also with poblanos. Each requires its own prep. No matter what kind,
first cut off the tops and pull out the seeds. If it's poblanos, char
them on the stove's flame or on a grill to get the skins off. With the
Marconis (or bell or many other peppers) I just plunge them in boiling
water for a few minutes to soften them up, then put in cold water to
cool them down.
2) Make up the stuffing. This could be just about anything. I've used
yellow squash from the garden, onions, rice, shrimp, chicken all in varying
combinations. Here's one easy one:
Pre-cooked chicken from the supermarket, chopped up into small pieces
A medium yellow squash, chopped up into small cubes
A clove of garlic, few leaves of fresh basil and fresh oregano (if you
don't have the fresh, use the dried or leave it out entirely), all chopped
A medium onion, chopped small
all but the chicken in a little oil until the onions are
cooked, mix in the chicken (or shrimp or whatever) and put
in a bowl to cool a bit.
Stuff the mixture into the peppers, spooning it in then stuffing
it down with your hands (this is why it's good to cool the
4) Arrange the peppers in a Pyrex baking dish and drizzle on persimmon
syrup (as much as you like).
5) Cover with as much grated cheese as you like (I use sharp cheddar
but it matters not).
6) Toss on slices of fresh tomato or whole little tomatoes (I use Texas
Wild teeny tomatoes from the garden but anything will do).
7) Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes (if you are using poblano
peppers or others that have not been pre-boiled, bake longer, like maybe
it. You won't believe the deliciousness. Then try experimenting.
This syrup or butter can enhance lots of things. Let me know
if you come up with anything interesting
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