Tuesday, August 20, 2013

It's Persimmon Time Again

We were at a small wooded park the other day, letting our pooch run about, and came across five trees with little pumpkin-looking fruits. I knew these little fruits looked familiar, but thought, "Hmmm...not sure what that is."

Hub says, "I don't know what they are either, but those look like hickory trees". I quickly asked, "What makes you think they are hickory trees?" Hub replies, "Well, everything about them, the bark, the leaves...". My reply "Oh, okay."

Once home, a little research revealed a surprise. Imagine hub's chagrin when I told him to call Guinness because we found some hickory trees that were growing persimmons. I do love my hub, he is so entertaining sometimes, and hey, we have to take our entertainment where we find it, right. (Below are the two of the photos I took that day.)

Not really surprising, under the trees were three piles of deer poo (persimmon seeds included)...which I took as an indication that deer must like to munch the wild persimmons.


According to local native folklore (which means it hasn't been scientifically proven, or disproved), the severity of approaching winter can be forecast by cutting open a persimmon seed and looking at the shape of the kernel inside. Hold the seed carefully with a pair of needled-nose pliers and use a paring knife to slice it open.

If the kernel is spoon-shaped, lots of heavy, wet snow is the forecaste. If the kernel is fork-shaped, powdery light snow and a mild winter is predicted. If the kernel is knife-shaped, the prediction is for icy and bitter cutting winds.

I grew up with this folklore and Mom shared a story of how, when her and my uncles were kids, the wild persimmon was what they would try to get a kid who didn't know what they were to eat, while still firm (unripe) for the biggest pucker face ever. These little wild fall fruits must be soft and mushy to be fit for consumption and they are very heavy on seeds. It would take quite a lot for any significant amount to make pudding or cookies.

However, in the produce department at the grocery store I found the Fuyu and the Hachiya persimmons. Wow! This picture shows how small the wild persimmons are alongside the Fuyus.


Fuyu persimmons are the squatty looking ones. They are best when they are reddish orange and firm to the touch. You can eat Fuyus when they're crunchy and they taste mild and sweet. The Hachiya persimmons are sort of shaped like a cone and can't be eaten until they are extremely soft. They're good for smoothies and for baking. The Hachiya persimmons need to be totally soft before eating because they are highly astringent and will make your mouth pucker. Not a pretty mouth feel or sight!


Persimmons are a great source of fiber, vitamin A (as beta-carotene, ergo the beautiful orange color), and give us a decent amount of potassium, vitamin C and vitamin E.


Tried this recipe for persimmon salad and boy was it tasty!

Persimmon Salad
Salad Ingredients:
*1 - 6 ounce bag baby spinach
*3 medium Fuyu persimmons, cored and cut into slices or cubes
*1/4-1/2 cup roasted pecans
*1/4 cup dried cherries (or dried cranberries if you can't find the cherries)

Dressing Ingredients:
(this dressing is easy to make but if you really don't have time any citrus flavored store bought one will work too)
*2 Tbs. Seasoned rice vinegar
*3 Tbs. Olive oil
*3 Tbs. Orange juice
*1/2 tsp. Salt

Mix dressing ingredients well. Toss salad ingredients with dressing just before serving. It's as easy as that!

Below are additional links to persimmon recipes. 

Persimmons are around for such a short time. Take advantage of this delicious fruit with one of these persimmon recipes and enjoy.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Time for Sand Plums

The Chickasaw, Cherokee or sand plum grows 12 to 20 feet tall and 15 to 20 feet wide in an irregular shape. It is "twiggy" in nature, and has a scaly, almost black bark. Its branches are reddish with a thorn-like, small side branches. In February, March, April and May, small white flowers blossom, 8–9 mm wide, along with red plums, up to 25 mm long. The flowers have five white petals with reddish or orange anthers. The plums ripen in late summer. It is perennial and also an evergreen. It requires low to medium amounts of water to grow, and dry, sandy or loose soil. It grows best in areas with regular sunlight or areas of partial shade. In sunny areas, it will be more dense and colonize more thickly. In areas of partial shade, it will be thinner and less dense, and each plant will be more spread out.

Prunus angustifolia or sand plums are native to the United States and can be found in all of the central plain and southern states, as well as California. They grow in dry and sandy soils, such as open woodlands, woodland edges, forest openings, savannahs, prairies, plains, meadows, pastures, and roadsides. Chickasaw plums tend to bloom early in the spring. Because they bloom early in the spring, before many other plants bloom, and require very little maintenance, they are often used in horticulture for ornamental use. They are found along many highways, especially in the southern part of the United States. The fruit is eaten by various animals. It also provides cover for nesting sites. Ripe fruits are slightly tart, but can be eaten or are sometimes made into jellies, desserts and preserves. Because of its attractive bark, small leaves and thin branches, Chickasaw plum is also sometimes used for bonsai.

Use of sand plums range from cover for native bird species to making jams, jellies, and wine from the fruit. Commercial desire in making jams and jellies has led to a rising interest in cultivating sand plums for home and orchard production. Sand plums range from 2 feet to 25 feet high, depending upon soil and water conditions. Leaves are bright green and have serrated edges that have tiny orange dots on each serration. The leaves have a slick feeling to the touch. This characteristic can help distinguish it from Oklahoma Plum, which looks very similar but has leaves that are fuzzy to the touch.

The bark is initially a deep reddish brown color that turns ash gray as the branch ages. Flowers typically appear in March to early April and are arranged in clusters. These flowers are a brilliant white and may have a faint fragrance. They usually are no bigger than 0.5 inches across. Flowering will last for a couple of weeks and either red or yellow fruit will begin to form afterward. Ripening of the fruit occurs from June to early August and are either yellow or a bright red. Both colors occur in the same areas of Oklahoma. Fruit size can range from ¼ inch to 1 inch. It is recommended that long sleeves be worn while collecting fruit since the plants may be thorny, depending upon how damaged they have been by deer and cattle in the past.
Sand plum recipes can be found on the web for all sorts of delicious goodies like jelly, jam, butter and bread. Here are links to just a few...
Sand Plum Jam
The sand plum season is short...enjoy some today!