Recipe Fail, Week Ending 11/22/2020

I’m still stuck on the problematic persimmon issue from last week.

And not just stuck because I have the pulp all over my fingers.

That I can’t lick off because of the astringency of these evil little fruits.

I tried putting them in the freezer to see if that would help sweeten them. Yes, in both Eating Appalachia and Incredible Wild Edibles, the authors clearly state that this is a myth and will not in fact help. But enough other people online swear by it, so I had to find out for myself.

Freezing definitely made them softer, but no more edible.

I then decided to roast some, since I read on some website somewhere that cooking the fruits can reduce the tannins that cause the mouth puckering furriness inflicted by underripe persimmons. I even found a recipe to try – the roasted persimmon salad dressing in Eating Appalachia seemed like a great candidate, and I could drizzle it over a sunchoke and chickweed salad making a hyperlocal meal for lunch one day.

Unfortunately, everything about this process went horribly wrong.

First of all, the instructions say to remove the seeds but leave the persimmons intact. When half the mass of the fruit is taken up by the seeds, removing them completely obliterates the fruit. Period. Plus, since the persimmons are ultimately destined for the blender, I wasn’t sure why they needed to be whole anyway. But I dutifully reshaped each blob of pulp back into a sphere-ish-shape for roasting. Maybe otherwise the persimmons would burn? I don’t know.

Either way, thoroughly pitting the persimmons is VERY important. Apparently persimmon seeds are extremely hard, and could damage your blender blades. (Although I never got that far!)

Second, I made the major mistake of replacing the sorghum syrup in the recipe with maple syrup. I didn’t think sorghum grew locally (I was wrong, by the way), plus I didn’t have any to use! Well, after 20 minutes of roasting at 400 F, the maple syrup burned. Badly. My whole house smelled like burnt sugar the rest of the day! My kids were traumatized.

Not to mention which – the persimmons looked awful. I knew they were going in a blender anyway, but I worried about their unappetizing appearance. Then I realized I had to actually try one. I had purchased walnut oil to use instead of olive oil in the dressing (again, using ingredients I could theoretically source locally, even if I didn’t actually this time), and walnut oil is too expensive to waste. I had to know if the roasting had worked before I went any further.

Suffice to say, the one persimmon I sampled tasted as bad as it looked. AND it had a seed still hidden inside. My mouth curled up on itself and I spat the rest of the bite out. I tossed the rest into the compost, recipe attempt abandoned.

Maybe I’m not destined to forage American persimmons.

Or maybe I need to wait patiently for the day when I have my own tree and can pick the fruit when they are actually ripe, not just when I can make / find time to visit a roadside wild tree!

The roadside persimmon tree taunts me
The roadside persimmon tree taunts me

Note: I am not an affiliate marketer and I do not get commissions if you buy these books from Amazon.com. I highly recommend looking for them at your public library. If you would like to support my work, you can hire me to perform a wild edibles assessment for property in the northern WV, central MD, northern VA, or southern PA area; hire me to speak or write about foraging, permaculture and sustainability; or consider making a donation.

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