I first encountered persimmons while living in North Carolina. Wild trees grew all over the Piedmont, and I would stumble upon them on walks about town or step out of a classroom and find one just outside, dripping with orange fruit.
At first, I didn't really know what to do with this abundance, but my friend Alex is a big proponent of persimmon pudding (more like a bread or cake than pudding), and I experimented with putting them in pies, both by themselves and with other fruits like apples.
There are two varieties of Persimmons-- Asian and American. The Asian Fuyu is non-astringent, while the American variety and the Asian Hachiya persimmon are both astringent types (read more here). Despite their bright orange hue, the astringent versions are not necessarily ripe when plucked from a tree, and if you bite into it it's sour with a chalky, tannic flavor. They are generally ripe when they fall from the tree or have sat out and the fruit becomes very soft and the flesh slightly shriveled.
This Persimmon Pie recipe from Hoosier Mama is originally for American persimmons, though I couldn't find any in my neighborhood in D.C. and used Fuyu persimmons I bought at Whole Foods instead. Fuyu persimmons are slightly larger than American varieties, and are slightly sweeter, so I reduced the sugar in Paula's original recipe.
To extract the pulp, you'll probably need a food mill, which will allow you to separate the skin from the fruit and extract as much of the pulp as possible. The resulting pie bears a similar texture, color, and flavor to pumpkin pie, but tastes slightly more fruity or floral. Experiment with your spices if desired--it would also be good with a touch of cardamom or allspice.
Adapted from The Hoosier Mama Book of Pie
Nothing-in-the-House pie crust, halved
1 cup strained persimmon pulp (American or Asian)
Zest of 1/2 orange
3 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla paste (extract can be substituted)
1/2-2/3 cup granulated sugar (use more if you're using American or Hachiya persimmons)
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon mace
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1. Prepare half of the Nothing-in-the-House pie crust as per the directions, reserving the leftover egg for an egg wash. Chill dough at least 1 hour before rolling out and fitting into a greased and floured 9-inch pie pan. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F, meanwhile, return pie to fridge and let chill for 15 more minutes. Line pie crust with parchment paper and fill with pie weights or dried beans. Blind bake for 15 minutes. Remove pie weights and bake for 5 minutes more until crust is light-golden brown and flaky.
2. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Using a spatula, press the persimmon pulp through a fine-mesh stainer, place in a medium bowl and sprinkle with orange zest. Whisk in the eggs, cream, butter, and vanilla paste (or extract), stirring well to combine after each addition.
3. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together sugars, cinnamon, mace, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the persimmon mixture and whisk until combined.
4. Pour the filling into the blind baked pie shell and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour until the edge of the pie is slightly puffed and the center is dry to the touch (mine pictured baked just a *tad* too long).
5. Remove pie from oven and let cool to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to overnight before slicing. Serve slightly chilled or at room temp with a dollop of whipped cream.
Apple Persimmon Pie
Persimmon Pie for Marcie