It's persimmon time again so, due to popular demand, here is a replay of the persimmon posting in my Pedernales Post newsletter of last August. Here it is:

August 30, 2003 - Richard Persimmons' Fruity Aerobics

I 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)...
Wild Texas Aerobic Persimmon Butter
1) 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. Wide image of persimmon tree
Close image of green persimmons on tree These are small fruit, green and round, ranging in size from a dime to a quarter.
They 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. Close image of black (ripe) persimmons on tree
Close image of mashing persimmons in a pot 2) 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).
3) 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. Strainer in bowl
Persimmon pulp in pot

4) 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.

5) 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.

I 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. 14 Jars of canned persimmons

Ok, so now you are stuck with all these jars of goopy black stuff. Oh my, what to do?

A) 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:

Stuffed 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 up
A medium onion, chopped small

Fry 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.

3) 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 stuffing first).
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 30 minutes.

That's 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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