Writing about the native American persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) in the “General History of Virginia” (1624), Captain John Smith describes his persimmon experience as follows: “If it be not ripe, it will draw a man’s mouth awry, with much torment, but when it is ripe, it is as delicious as an apricot!” As our American persimmons will not bear fruit until they are at least 10 years old (25 is optimum), we are looking to the East!
It’s less than one month to go before our ‘Saijo’ Asian persimmons (Diospyros kaki) will be ready for harvest! This is one of the astringent varieties (“will pucker your mouth if unripe” in non-horticulturist language) and so although those in the above photograph are already orange, they will only be ripe when fully soft. The other varieties we grow, ‘Jiro’ and ‘Maekawa Jiro’ (with slightly smaller fruit) both belong to the non-astringent group and can be eaten when they first turn orange and are still firm.
Our ‘Jiro’ trees seem to be ripening the earliest so they have been earmarked for our Junior Chefs to make a persimmon-chili jam in two weeks’ time, using the organic tabasco peppers we just harvested, however the ‘Saijo’ is destined for the cookie jar!
4 very soft, ripe ‘Saijo’ persimmons
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp grated nutmeg
½ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp salt
1 cup organic cane sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
8 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temp
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Coarsely chop the fruit, discarding the calyxes and any seeds and puree persimmons in a food processor to get one cup.
Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and salt. Using an electric mixer set at high speed, cream butter and sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until mixture is light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in egg. With mixer on low speed, beat in persimmon puree, then flour mixture. Stir in nuts.
Using a tablespoon measure for each cookie, drop the dough, two inches apart, on the baking sheets. Bake, rotating trays from top to bottom, midway, until edges of cookies are lightly browned, about 15 minutes.
oh, and while still warm… eat two, one from each hand!
Store the remaining 28 cookies when completely cooled on a very high shelf in the tallest closet you can find, and surround with barbed wire!