|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