Friday, December 25, 2009

Persimmon Pudding with Sour Lemon Sauce

I’ve been making persimmon pudding since I found it in the Martha Stewart Christmas book 20 years ago, but the history of persimmon cooking in America goes way back. The American persimmon, ‘Diospyros virginiana,' was found growing in Virginia by the early American Captain John Smith in 1609, who described the tree and the persimmon fruit in great detail and as tasting like an apricot. 

William Bartram, the famous early American botanist encountered the native American persimmon trees, ‘Diospyros virginiana,' as documented in his book, Travels, of 1773. The native American persimmon was also brought to the attention of early American Presidents and plant collectors, George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. 
Native Americans mixed the pulp with corn meal to bake bread. They dried the fruit like we do with grapes and plums. Colonists used the pulp to make bread, puddings, pies, and preserves. Persimmon beer and brandy were served at gatherings.

This pudding is made the old fashioned way as one would an English pudding. It is steamed and served in this case with an addictive sour lemon sauce but it can be served with a hard sauce or applesauce or crème anglaise. I’ve made a few changes from Martha’s recipe, a little less sugar and more lemon. Please be advised… use ripe persimmons… buy them a week in advance if they are hard. Unripe persimmons are loaded with tannin and have a puckerish nature. When ripe, the flesh is luscious and sexy. The skin crinkles a little when you press it. Although you can make the pudding with less than ripe fruit… the result will not be as good.

Persimmon Pudding

3 large very ripe persimmons

1/3 c sugar

4 ½ T vegetable oil

3 large eggs

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 ¾ c flour

¼ c whole wheat flour

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

Oil a 3-quart pudding mold. Peel the persimmons and puree the flesh, removing any seeds. You should have 2 cups of puree.

Beat together the sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla until fluffy, then add the persimmon. Sift the flour baking soda salt and cinnamon. Blend with persimmon mixture and pour into mold. Cover with parchment paper tightly with rubber band or string then cover with foil

Put on a rack in a large pot with boiling water ½ way up the mold. Bring water to a boil and then simmer for 2 ½ hours. Pudding should spring back when touched. Let cool one hour and then unmold. Serve with sour lemon sauce.

Sour Lemon Sauce

½ c sugar

1 ¼ T cornstarch

pinch of salt

1 ¼ c hot water

3 ½ T unsalted butter

8 T lemon juice

3 tsp lemon rind

Combine sugar and cornstarch and salt. Add hot water and cook over low flame 3-5 minutes until thick. Add the rest and cool Do not refrigerate or it will become like aspic.

WARNING: This sauce is so good you could drink it… leave some for the pudding!


juste pour le plaisir said...

Mmhh, what a delicious recipes!!! Merry christmas.

Kate at Serendipity said...

OH, I have this book too! But it does't give all the info about persimmons. I love your informative posts.

Deana Sidney said...

Juste pur le plaisir: Thanks,

Kate... The lemon sauce is really awesome... hers was too sweet and not lemony enough for me... so I changed the proportions. I really recommend it!! Glad you like my little lessons!!!

zurin said...

That looks yummy. What a alovely blog u have. I like the pictures that you display. thanks for visiting mine. I will certainly come back for more recipes :))

Ravenous Couple said...

this looks great and thanks for the historical footnotes... another interesting warning for not to eat unriped persimmons is the formation of phytobezoars, or mass like material made from stomach content due to those nasty tanins :)

Sarah said...

I love your blog! And saw you on Tastespotting. Lovely picture and recipe.

Linda said...

Just persimmon pudding...
I make a steamed version from a recipe I have had for almost 30 years...
yours looks beautiful!
Merry Christmas!

Deana Sidney said...

To Zurin, Ravenous, Sarah and Linda... Thanks for visiting! I'm glad you like my blog. I never knew that about phytobezors...oh my! What I like about Martha's pudding was that it didn't have anything else in it.. no raisins or other fruit... and then that lemon sauce! What's in yours Linda?


Barbara said...

I love persimmons! I made a wonderful persimmon bread and ended up using extra to make muffins. Served them Christmas morning and everyone adored them.
Your pudding looks wonderful and a sour lemon sauce on top would make it perfect.

Faith said...

This is such an elegant cake and I love the gorgeous plate it's served on! I'm glad for the info on persimmons, because I don't have much experience cooking with them. That sour lemon sauce sounds divine, if I make this I'll definitely make extra sauce! Happy holidays to you and yours!

Deborah said...

I have actually never had a persimmon before, but this looks so pretty that I want to try it!

Deana Sidney said...

Barbara, persimmon bread sound so good... recipe???
Faith... the plate was under $10 from an upstate antique store... all dusty and barely red.. its 1870s I think...that renaissance revival with the crenelations... I've always loved it.. glad you do too! Be brave and use the persimmons.. they are almost at season's end.
Deborah... you too.. try them... they are really good when ripe!

Julia @Mélanger said...

What a wonderful recipe. I didn't realise the history of persimmons.

June said...

Love steamed puddings and well..persimmons..amazing little orbs, aren't they?

E said...

I love persimmon pudding and have been working on a recipe myself. I guess it is that time of year. Yours looks delicious!
My husband is a historian, and I am digging that you blend a passion for food with an interest in the past.
Let me know how you like the rosemary almond shortbread.

Deana Sidney said...

Julia> Persimmons are lovely fruits... glad you liked the story!
June> yes amazing and colorful orbs!
E> My fellow is a historian too... I am looking forward to that shortbread when I'm not elbow deep in chocolate!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Thankyou for sharing this recipe! I often see ripe persimmons on sale at the markets and buy them to eat but inevitably don't eat them in time so this is a great way to get that persimmon flavour :D

Amber said...

I love your blog! And saw you on Tastespotting. Lovely picture and recipe.