Persimmons are one of my favorite autumn fruits. Persimmon trees are found growing wild throughout the eastern U.S. and spanning into the Midwest. Trees typically bear fruit from September through November.
The fruits are unmistakable – small, yellow to red orbs with star-shaped leaves. The life cycle of persimmons is distinct in that they aren’t fully ripe until they fall from the tree. A slight shake of a tree may allow for the hard-to-reach ripe fruit to fall, but there is a very fine line; they can have a bitter and unpleasant flavor when unripe. As tempting as perfect-looking persimmons might be, ones that appear slightly bruised or overripe usually have the best flavor – delicate-yet-rich with robust smoky sweetness.
The best way to cook persimmons is to press the pulp. There is no easy way to remove their many seeds; the best method is to use a cone strainer with a wooden pestle, but a kitchen strainer and the bottom of a coffee mug will also do the trick. Add chopped up persimmons, and then press fruit firmly in a downward motion to separate the skin and seeds, allowing the pulp to be collected. One persimmon may only yield 2 tablespoons of pulp, so be sure you have enough on hand for the following recipe.
Crystal Stevens is a farmer at La Vista CSA Farm on the bluffs of the Mississippi River in Godfrey, Illinois, where she farms with her husband, Eric. They have two children. Crystal is an advocate of integrating creativity into sustainability through writing, art, photojournalism and seed-to-table cooking. Find more of her work at growingcreatinginspiring.blogspot.com, which she created to launch her forthcoming book, Grow Create Inspire.
Yields | 18 popovers |
- 1½ cups persimmon pulp (from roughly 12 persimmons)
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 1 cup finely chopped pitted dates
- 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 Tbsp honey
- 1 egg, separated
- 1 Tbsp water
- 1 package puff pastry sheets (2 sheets), thawed
| Preparation | Preheat oven to 400°F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except egg, water and puff pastry to form popover filling.
In a small bowl, whisk only egg yolk and water together. Discard egg white. Set egg wash aside.
Cut each sheet of puff pastry into 9 equal squares. Place 1 teaspoon filling into the center of each square. Fold corners of squares over to create triangles. Use a fork to crimp edges. Once all squares are filled, use a pastry brush to brush each with egg wash.
Transfer popovers to a sheet tray and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Check every 5 minutes; they are finished baking when golden brown. Serve.