by Ailsa Brackley du Bois
Four Summer seasons came and went, without the appearance of even so much as one little fruit. The tree is slender, with lots of long and spindly drooping branches. One year a large branch broke in the wind, under the weight of it's proliferation of skinny tendrils.
Last Winter we had a friend over who's worked in horticulture for decades, and he taught us how to prune it properly, and also spray the 'wounds' immediately afterwards with a black sealant to minimise distress. Then came the rain. We had more rain last September than we've had in our area since the 1940s. In December the little jewels began to appear on the tree, but we did not take much much notice of them, thinking they'd probably stagnate and that would be the end of them. Not so.
By April, we discovered we had a heap of them, 26 to be precise. They were firm but not hard, and I was becoming worried the birds would surely take them soon. So I put a net over them. We waited for a while longer, wondering what to do next. In May, I did some research and tentatively worked out how to deal with them.
I've also read that they do not like to be piled on top of each other, as they're very 'sensitive'. So, I placed them in a single layer in a wooden crate. I then placed the crate in a dull corner of our pantry for two weeks to allow them to soften. They did, and then I wondered what on Earth to do next, so I procrastinated for a while longer, as the best of us do at times.
My husband, daughter and I all tried one each and discovered they were absolutely gorgeous. Such an interesting silky texture and gentle flavour. This must be why they're considered the royalty of the fruit family, we all agreed.
"What next?" I wondered. Did some more research and found we could use slices of them in a rocket salad with blue cheese and candied walnuts. Delicious. I then discovered we could put them in wholemeal muffins. Again, delicious.
By this stage, I was out of ideas, and the rest of our persimmons seemed too soft for salads, so I left them in the fridge and thought, "I'll just wait and see ..."
Two weeks later I phoned a farmer friend, and she said,
"Try making Persimmon Liqueur - It's not hard!"
"Sure ..." I thought, and waited another week.
For my final culinary adventure with persimmons this year, I've mashed the rest of them into what I hope will form a liqueur - This is my own take on what my farmer friend recommended. It has involved the pulp of 9 persimmons, 3/4 cup of Vodka, 1/2 cup of white Vermouth and three very large spoon fulls' of sugar. I've poured it into this glass jar, pictured below, and will let it do its stuff in the fridge (with the lid on) for the next two weeks. I'm half thinking it might be good frozen, like a sort of sorbet, and a spoonful could be put into flutes of Champagne. Just thoughts ...
Life is a journey in learning, and while I do not claim to be any expert on persimmons, I hope this post is helpful to interested persimmon appreciators, or for those who aspire to try new treats such as these.