Sunday, November 9, 2008

Shine on, shine on harvest moon

Fall's abundance continues at Kay's Leaning Tree Farm - my root crops, green tomatoes ripening in baskets, all the mysterious squash, and now persimmons!

Persimmons are very pretty, before they ripen. They aren't ripe enough to use until they are nearly mush. I've eaten my cousin Carol's persimmon pudding on many Christmas Eves, but I had never cooked with persimmons myself. I had a bonus day off on Thursday. So I embarked on my first ever Persimmon Day.

My mom returned from visiting a friend and said, "Jiggs' persimmon tree is loaded! Maybe next year you can work persimmons into your new gluten free diet."

I said, "Next year? No way! I'm off on Thursday. Let's take a field trip!"

So we headed half an hour south to Franklin, IN. It was a beautiful fall day, still in the 70's.

Jiggs, on the left, and Mother posed in the front yard.

This is Jigg's preferred mode of transportation in her neighborhood. I love it!

I'm always prepared to climb a fruit tree to pick fruit, but Mother had told me that you don't climb a persimmon tree. You shake it. If the fruit won't fall, it's not ripe. So Jiggs pulled a long-handled push broom out of her garage and knocked the branches. We all picked up the fallen fruit. Some was pretty mushy. I came home with three plastic grocery bags half full of mushy persimmons.

With instructions from Cousin Carol, I put the mushy persimmons in a screen wire collander and mashed them with a wooden spoon for hours. I ended up with 6 cups of pulp and a really sticky kitchen. I froze the pulp in zipper snack size bags. They hold one cup. So I'll be ready for future recipes. After an entire day devoted to persimmons, I just had to bake something. I decided to try persimmon bars.

Persimmon Bars

1 C persimmon pulp
1 C sugar
1 C coconut milk (you can use any milk that suits you)
1/2 C soft butter
2 T vanilla (I used some vanilla bean pulp)
1 1/2 C white rice flour
2 eggs
2 T baking soda (optional, I react to baking soda so I left it out. Worked great!)
1/2 t cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together. I did this by hand. Pour into a greased and rice floured 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350 for about an hour. The bars are done when they are firm. I jiggled the pan. When the middle didn't jiggle, I took them out of the oven.

Note: I think these bars would be great with a nut meal and butter crust, and/or with a streusel topping.

I found a new product at the Georgetown Market on their recent Gluten Free Day. They had lots of samples and product reps on hand. Unfortunately, the samples all contained forbidden ingredients. So I didn't get to taste anything. But I'd been looking for a coconut milk with no guar gum. All the canned coconut milks I've seen have a tiny bit (less than 1%) guar gum. I found this powdered version from Let's Do Organic that lists only one ingredient: coconut. I found it after I'd made the persimmon bars with canned coconut milk. I plan to test drive the powdered one with my next batch.

After our persimmon picking, we drove farther south to The Apple Works in Trafalgar, IN. A friend I saw at my college reunion said her goats are part of the petting zoo there. So I got to pet some goats. I also saw my first alpacas. They also had some pretty chickens and I liked their chicken coop. I wish I'd taken my tape measure and made some drawings. Hickory trees shaded the path from the apple store to the petting zoo. I picked up a couple of handfuls of hickory nuts. It was a good day!


Carrie said...

my great-grandma loved persimmons! She talked about them a lot whenever we talked "food!" Strangely enough I don't think I've ever eaten them! Your bars look absolutely delicious though!! Yummy! Thanks for commenting on my Thanksgiving dinner! I think surf and turf sounds delicious too!! I hope you'll blog about your dinner!I am WAY impressed with your fried fish using your homegrown sorghum!!

Shirley said...

We have a persimmon tree on our mtn property. I've never eaten any. When I expressed interest, my husband said, "you know that expression, turn your mouth inside out? it came from someone eating a persimmon." He was not at all complimentary about persimmons. I am not too inclined to try them myself. LOL But good for you. I enjoyed the pics as always. :-)

Gluten free Kay said...

Hi Carrie,

I like the distinctive flavor of persimmons. But I don't think I would pay $6.99/lb. for processed pulp at the grocery store. My "living off the land" philosophy wouldn't let me pass up an available abundant harvest. Persimmon bars or pudding will be a nice break from my cobbler-of-the-week.

You know, it took me two hours to fry that one filet of fish in sorghum. Ha! I was happy to finally grind some of my grains, but I really prefer my fish sauteed these days.

Hi Shirley,

Never eat a persimmon before it is soft ALL OVER. I eat fresh (ripe ones) and they're sweet and wonderful. I heard of a more efficient gathering method. You spread a clean sheet on the ground, then knock the branches around and pick up clean fresh fruit. I have several bowls of fruit ripening in my house. It works! And the fruit is clean. I pick out the ripest fruit and mash it up every three or four days. I've added three more bags of pulp to my freezer since the big harvest day.