A week or so ago, a man we know gave us a little bag of persimmons.
A pioneer cook would no doubt know just what to do with these sweet fall fruits; I did not. The persimmons sat on the kitchen cabinet until my husband pointed out they were starting to get very soft. I knew I had to do something with them or let them go to waste. I went to the handy-dandy internet and found a recipe for persimmon bread, something I thought a pioneer cook might have made if she had gathered a bag of persimmons. The recipe was on the Allrecipes site. I thought it seemed like something with simple ingredients that a pioneer cook would have had in her kitchen (although I do wonder - was cinnamon available? Probably not on the frontier, I would guess.) I substituted pecans for the walnuts and left out the raisins (personal preference - I hate the way they get all swelled-up and soft!)
The worst part of preparing the recipe was making the persimmon pulp. It seemed that it would be impossible to peel the persimmons with a knife, so at first I tried to pull the skin off - it was a mess! Finally, I had the bright idea to scrape the pulp from the skin with a knife, and that worked much better. I was also pleasantly surprised that it was easy to remove the seeds. A persimmon has several seeds about the size of a thumbnail. Once a long time ago, I picked up some wild persimmons and tried to make bread with them - all I remember is that there seemed to be as much seed inside that skin as pulp, and it was almost impossible to separate the pulp from the seed. Of course, these persimmons were a domesticated variety, so the job was easier, and it didn't take as many persimmons to get my one cup of pulp as it would have taken if I had been using wild persimmons. I guess, though, if you didn't have sweets very often, it would be worth it to sort through those wild persimmons to get the pulp.
End result? The bread was very dense (I guess since soda was the only leavening agent) and dark, but moist and sweet. It reminds me a lot of pumpkin bread. It made a nice breakfast, something different from the typical sausage biscuit or cold cereal. The biggest drawback, though, is that this loaf of bread used only a few of the persimmons the man gave us. The rest are still sitting on the cabinet. I might try a cookie recipe, or I might put the rest of the pulp in the freezer to use for more bread later. Any suggestions?