Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Persimmons and my Grandma's Pudding

My Grandma's backyard, April 2010

There are three things I will always associate with my Grandma’s kitchen: homemade biscuits, chicken and dumplings, and persimmon pudding.   Thankfully she taught me to make the first two items and I have the recipe for persimmon pudding and once did make some (but I had imported a bag of persimmons from Grandma’s house).  Persimmons grew wild along the back edge of the field where my grandma had her garden.  In the fall, after the first frost, she’d collect the persimmons and squeeze out the pulp and freeze it for persimmon pudding.  Whenever I would arrive at Grandma’s house, she’d always have a pan of pudding waiting.  It didn’t last two long.

Persimmons are a weird fruit.  If you eat them too early, they are sour and will turn your mouth inside out.  I’ve heard old jokes about the juice from green persimmons being mistaken for communion wine (or grape juice) and it not being a pretty thing with a congregation of sour looking faces.  The preacher, his lips all puckered up, suggested with a lisp that everyone stand and whistle the Doxology.  I wondered for a long time why anyone would even have such a thing as juice made from green persimmons, but somewhere I read or was told that the juice was used to make jelly (today, if anyone still makes jelly, they buy a package of sure-jell from the grocery store).  I don’t know if the story of persimmon juice served during communion is true, but considering the stern faces of the church’s elders who served communion when I was a kid, I could imagine that a shot of persimmon juice would have enlivened the congregation a bit without bring any smiles to the elders. 

As a kid, my uncle and older cousins use to dare me to bite into a green persimmon, a mistake one only makes once.  However, once the frost hits, the persimmon will undergo a dramatic conversion and become sweet and delicious.  It is then that one collects persimmons for pudding.  There is a problem; persimmon trees don’t grow this far north.  But lately, especially after reading a post at "The Ordinary and the Wild" blog on persimmons, I found myself wanting some persimmon pudding.  Unfortunately, my grandma has been in an assisted living facility for the past few years and I am pretty sure her persimmon pudding days are over.  But just so the tradition (and the recipe came from my grandmother’s grandma, so it goes back a ways) doesn’t die, I’ll post her recipe here and if anyone can get me a quart of persimmons, we’ll have ourselves a great feast.  And I wonder how those huge persimmons that come from Asia would do in this recipe?

Grandma’s Persimmon Pudding

1 quart persimmons
2 eggs beaten
3 tablespoons butter
1 pint flour
3 tablespoons meal  (I assume this is cornmeal)
1 teaspoon soda
1 ½ cups sugar
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup buttermilk
Raisins (the more the better, I’d start with a ½ cup)

Mix ingredients and pour into a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes


  1. I like my persimmons a touch on the sour side but then, I love lemon ice cream too. On many sites with maps of where persimmons grow, there was one grove in the SE corner of Iowa. That was just up the road from my parents farm but unfortunately, the farmer whose fence row they grew in cut them down over five years ago. I don't know where any other groves of them are but I bet with the warm winter we had last year, they would probably thrive if planted, at least until the next hard winter.

  2. huh never had persimmon pudding...or really remember eating one...might try chicken and dumplings...grew up on that...ha...

  3. I've seen them in the supermarket but never bought them since I didn't know what to do with them. Frankly had I bought them I'ld have probably treated them like tomatoes and cooked them in a stew.
    Having a good look at them they remind me of these

    Aren't dumplings a bit on the heavy side if you live in a hot region. They can be like lead in the belly if done wrong too.

  4. My ex-boss used to make wine and he gave me some persimmon wine. I thought it would be bitter, but it wasn't.

  5. I know exactly what you mean about biting into one too early. I was told that there are two different kinds of persimmons on the market around here. One is sour and dry like that.. the other sweet and juicy. I suspect that pudding would be yummy.

  6. I looked it up and it seems I've seen the fruit in supermarkets as an imported item. Maybe one day I'll buy it. I am sure they don't sell it green.

  7. Nice memories, Sage. And a colorful backyard. I think my grandma must've made homemade biscuits every day of her life, because she always seemed to have leftover biscuits sitting in the oven when we'd visit.

  8. Hi Sage: Another great post! I was reminded of many memories of my own Grandmother's home!

  9. My grandmother also was known for her biscuits and chicken and dumplings, but I have never had persimmons and likely never will. I can conjure up at will, the taste of her biscuits and her dumplings.....oh so good!!

  10. I really love how you reminisce..and your memories are wonderful. I have never had persimmons!

  11. I should give this pudding a try. I once was given a very delicious, most tender persimmon as a gift from someone very special. Just hearing or seeing the word persimmons brings back very fond memories! I bet this pudding is yummy!