Late autumn, in southern Illinois and Indiana, is when the persimmon trees hang heavy with luscious fruit ready for picking: soft and squashy—dead ripe. Then we not only eat them raw but we have those rare treats: persimmon pudding, persimmon pie, and upside-down cake covered with this fruit which has such sweet juicy flesh and such unique flavor. Then the womenfolks make persimmon jelly and a syrup thick as molasses. Some still make “simmon beer”. Then the raccoons, foxes, squirrels, skunks, wild turkeys and bobwhite quail all have a feast. Then the possums get fat and sassy.
The above was written in 1966 by Seymour Simon, President of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County. You can read the rest here, and yes, it’s a perfect ode to the persimmon tree—the Indiana variety—which grows wild through the forests of this state. At least, here in the southern portion of it.
There are at least six persimmon trees on our land, but there’s a lot of unexplored forest, and chances are good that more are growing nearby. I’m sure the deer know where they are. We hardly managed to get any of the fruit this year, for the simple reason that all the wild animals got to them first. My only consolation is that the seeds are being spread through the woods.
Anyway, what has me thinking about this? My grandmother made persimmon pudding today! She still had some pulp left in the freezer, and she whipped up a desert so good it made my head spin. It’s something you can only get here in Indiana—maybe, if you’re lucky, a few other places—but the fruit is rare, impossible to transport because it’s so fragile, and the pulp, as far as I know, is hard to find. Though you can freeze it—and, perhaps, ship it that way.
Here’s a slice:
So good! So moist and delicious! So fattening!