A few days after Thanksgiving, my mother brought over two huge sacks of Hachiya persimmons. They were in varying stages of ripeness and decay. I had bronchitis, so I wasn’t really in the baking mood or in any mood to deal with persimmons, so they sat on our kitchen table for a week. I left them for too long, and my mom had two more sacks to bring over that she’d been hauling around in the trunk of her car! So I got a second chance– but I was still sick and could not deal with all of those persimmons. And, it turns out, even though a few of them were rotting, most of them weren’t ripe.
My husband, who’s heard me wax rhapsodic about persimmons, tried one and said it wasn’t very good. He’s not a fruit bat like me, so I had to explain to him that you’re supposed to eat Fuyus out of hand– not Hachiyas, unless they’re completely soft and rotten looking. His response? “Yeah, because it wasn’t very good,” and he made a face again. I’m still not sure he understands what “out of hand” means, and since he’s not really a fruit person, I don’t think I’ll explain it again unless he asks! We’ve had the same conversation about apples, too, but he was probably thinking about amps and pedals the whole time. That’s okay, because a lot of the time, when I’ve reached the saturation point about amps (pedals I understand, amps not so much) I tend to think about what I would like to do to the yard, or about dinner.
A few days ago, though, I decided to sort through them. I didn’t want to waste a second batch of these guys, since you can only have persimmons once a year. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may, and all that.
Most recipes call for two cups of persimmons (or bananas), and I realized that these bags far exceeded the recipes, and as I still had bronchitis, I wasn’t up to more than one batch of something. So, that meant I had two problems: too many persimmons, and too many unripe persimmons. And I suppose the third problem was that I was a little stir crazy and really wanted something sweet.
My mom told me she’d heard that freezing persimmons ripened them up. I wondered, why not? Freezing a banana makes it mushy when defrosted– but would it sweeten the persimmon? Or would it still have that scratchy, mouth shriveling power when frozen to a mush? There was only one way to find out. I froze two (roughly two cups). Online, I found a recipe that said to preserve persimmons by adding lemon juice to the pulp when freezing it– but that was for already ripened fruit that you needed to keep. I tried that on the ones that were already ripe, and those are still in my freezer, actually. The lemon juice keeps them a lovely color, even in their baggies.
Then I defrosted the persimmons the next day. Sure enough, after an hour or two, they were the perfect softness. Perfectamundo!
Even better? If you let them defrost long enough, they slip straight out of their skins, no peeling required. I tasted them and they were sweet, not scratchy. As far as I can tell, there are no drawbacks to freezing persimmons in any stage of ripeness (because I froze a few patchily ripe ones, too). Just slice off the top where the stem is, then squeeze the fruit out of its skin– it slips out in one plop– into a waiting bowl. Mash with a fork or hand blender– I used a potato masher, because I didn’t feel like dragging out a hand blender.
Also, cookies seemed a bit too laborious (lazybones, I know!) so I made a bread instead. It came out really well, and my daughter (who is a fan of banana breads, pumpkin breads and gingerbreads) gobbled most of it up, and last night my dear father-in-law came over to finish the job. Ha! I can always count on him to ferret out Oreos (even when they are on a top shelf in the pantry!) or any kind of baking. I think he might be my biggest baking fan.
So, here is the recipe for the persimmon bread that came out so well. I made it up, but I suspect it’s not too different from a bunch of other breads out there. Mostly, I just want a record of what I did, so I can do it again. And unfortunately, no pictures, since it disappeared so quickly!
2 cups persimmon pulp
1 cup sugar (I used white, but I think brown would taste good, too, because brown sugar tastes good in EVERYTHING.)
2.5 cups white flour (Usually flours are a bit interchangeable with breads like these, but the persimmon pulp is very wet and makes a heavy batter, so I think whole wheat would make the whole thing too dense to bake properly. Cookies are a different story.)
o.5 cube of melted butter (I prefer salted butter in all things.)
1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves (I love cloves, but if you don’t, omit it or use less. They go well with persimmons, though.)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
Put all the wet ingredients and sugar together. Mixmixmix.
Add in half the flour, mixmixmix. With the other half of the flour, add the baking powder and soda, mixmixmix.
Prepare a loaf pan (I am lazy and use spray with flour, but if I were not so lazy, I’d use butter and flour like a normal person) and warm the oven to 375°. Bake for an hour, covering the top with foil for the last twenty minutes. Let the whole shebang cool completely once it’s out of the pan, and when it is cool, make frosting.
2 cups powdered sugar
1 largish T salted butter, room temperature
1.5 T brandy (I love the French brandy they have at Trader Joe’s)
Mixmixmix. Adjust the sugar and brandy– a little milk is good if you don’t want the brandy flavor to be too strong, if there is such a thing. I knew my daughter would be licking the bowl, however, and once when she was very little I didn’t think and gave her a bowl of frosting to lick– and she got a little tipsy. WHOOPS. So, think about who is going to lick your bowl. Actually, that’s just good life advice, isn’t it? THINK ABOUT WHO IS GOING TO LICK YOUR BOWL.
And so there it is. Tasty persimmon bread and a bonus method for both saving and preserving persimmons for future use! Also, if you have made it this far into the post, written in a codeine haze, you deserve to watch this video as a reward.