Native American Persimmon

persimmon tree

Persimmon

Diospyros virginiana

Persimmon can grow in a variety of soils and conditions.  Growing up in Oklahoma, we had a persimmon located in an area where our cattle grazed, in full sun, and did quite well.   It is in the Ebony family and only the Black Locust is a stronger wood.   The Dogwood and Ironwood are the only trees that are harder than the Persimmon.   It is one of the last trees to leaf out in the spring and one of the first to give up it’s leaves in the fall.   This is believed to thwart predatory insects.    Many people are surprised to learn that it’s fruit is the largest native “berry” in North America.

The Cherokee made a tea from the berries to treat kidney stones and a poultice to treat warts.   The berries ripen after the first hard frost.   The seeds were crushed to make a coffee life drink.   The Cherokee made bread, cakes, puddings, pies and beverages from the berries.  They also dried the Persimmons like plums to be eaten later in the winter, and finally the skins were used to make a molasses.

I remember my mother making persimmon cobblers that would melt in your mouth.   You had to hurry and pick the fruit after the frost because a lot of wildlife will eat them as well.

Today, persimmon wood is used to make textile mill shuttles and golf club heads.   The bark has a checker board appearance.

Persimmon Pudding

2 cups persimmon pulp, 1 cup sugar, 2 eggs, 2 cups milk, 1/2 cup margarine melted, 3 cups flour, 2 tsp. baking powder, 1/2 tsp. baking soda, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg, and  2 tsp. vanilla.

Spray a ceramic or glass casserole dish with non-stick spray.  Mix the sugar, persimmon and eggs together in a bowl.   Add everything else and mix well.   Pour into baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour.

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