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Earth Eats: Real Food, Green Living

Persimmons Are My Jam

Sure, persimmon pudding is the traditional way to enjoy this wild fall delicacy. But why not turn your persimmons into jam and enjoy them through the spring!

ripe persimmons in a white pot

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

Look at these beauties! You know they're ripe and ready for the eating when they are very mushy to the touch and the skins are practically falling off.

‘Tis the season for persimmons!

It seems as though winter has finally come to southern Indiana, but frost can actually be a good thing for my favorite wild edible. Some seasoned foragers like to wait until after the first frost to harvest persimmons because they believe the bit of cold makes them sweeter.

If you want to venture into the woods to do your own foraging, look for persimmons that are mushy with their skins nearly falling off. An underripe persimmon is not the most pleasant eating experience — it will zap your mouth of all its moisture!

Grandma Said

Before we get to the recipe, an old wives’ tale to share with your kids:

Take a persimmon seed and crack it in half with your teeth. Inside, you’ll see a sliver of white in the shape of a spoon, fork or knife. The spoon shape will catch a lot of snow flakes, which means a snowy winter. The tines of the fork will catch some snow, but not a lot. And if it looks like a knife — which it did in this year’s batch of persimmons — the snow will fall right past the blade and we will have a light winter.

You can try this trick with any of the seeds from this year’s batch of persimmons — they will all look the same!

Removing Seeds With Ease

Speaking of seeds, save yourself the trouble of picking them out by hand and invest in a food mill. By passing your persimmons through a food mill, you remove all the seeds and create the purée in one motion. Then you can freeze the purée in small containers and use it over the next several months.

Breaking Tradition

We’ve made traditional Persimmon Bead Pudding in the past. We’ve also mixed it up with Persimmon Panna Cotta. This recipe is more versatile than either of those and allows for year-long enjoyment of this fleeting fall favorite.

This is a freezer persimmon jam, which means you don’t have to worry about proper canning and sealing procedures. After combining the ingredients and pouring the mixture into jars, place them in the freezer. Pull a jar out an hour before you want to use it, let it thaw and then enjoy it on some buttermilk biscuits.

persimmons and persimmon puree

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

These ripe persimmons have been puréed in a food mill. Add some sugar, lemon juice and orange zest to make a delicious jam for your favorite biscuits!

persimmons and persimmon jam in white pot

Photo: Annie Corrigan/WFIU

This recipe makes six jars of persimmon jam, perfect for storing until spring or giving away to friends.

Persimmon Jam

Ingredients

  • 5 cups puréed persimmon
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup (or 1 and 1/2 lemons) fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange zest
  • 1 pinch Sweet Seasons Spice Blend (or Chinese Five Spice)
  • 6 Ball jars

Cooking Directions

  1. Run the persimmons through a food mill to remove the seeds and create the purée.
  2. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine persimmon purée, sugar, lemon juice, orange zest and spice blend. Boil for 30 minutes or until slightly thickened. (Your goal is not to reduce the mixture, just to thicken it!)
  3. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. (Leave one inch of empty space at the top of the jar to allow room for expansion.) Store in freezer. Remove one hour before use to allow the jam to thaw.

This recipe uses the Sweet Seasons Spice Blend.

Chef Daniel Orr

Chef Daniel Orr is the owner of FARMbloomington and the author of several cookbooks. He draws from a lifelong curiosity about individual ingredients combined with extensive training in the art of finding food’s true essence and flavor. The result is simple, yet sophisticated; the best of American food tempered by classic European training.

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