When talking to my boss lady a few days ago about tropical fruits, she mentioned that her Grandma used to make persimmon bread for her family. I had never heard of persimmon bread, so of course this turned into a must-try recipe adventure! I did some searching on my google machine, and have since learned a LOT about persimmons. First to know is there are two major varieties that you can find in the grocery store fairly easily: Hachiya and Fuyu.
Hachiya is acorn-shaped and is generally considered, to put it nicely, disgusting unless it is very very ripe. This is the type you want to use for breads and puddings.
Fuyu is smaller and shaped more like a tomato, but it has a top or stem that looks more like a strawberry. The fuyu’s are intended for eating like an apple. See wikipedia for a comparison of the two types.
When at the grocery store, I took a guess and got the Hachiya type. (Turned out to be the right choice! Yay!) But luckily I did my research when I got home, and read that Hachiya persimmons need to ripen to the point where they look like rotten tomatoes. All of the ones I picked were slightly soft to the touch, but from reading on the interwebs, you want the persimmon to be mega squishy. My persimmons obviously weren’t at that point yet. To hasten the rippening of my fruit, I put them all in a paper bag with an overripe banana that Joe and I had forgotten about. The ethylene gas expelled by the ripe banana will help to ripen my persimmons. You can also use a ripe apple the same way to help ripen if you don’t have any bananas on hand.
5 days later…
They look nastily overripe. In fact some of them had started to split and ooze this clear gel stuff. Perfect. One of them wasn’t quite smooshy enough, so I just used 4.
Now to prepare the persimmon pulp. (That shouldn’t be too hard, considering these guys are mush.) The basic idea is to grind all the persimmon flesh and then strain out the big bits in a sieve.
Persimmon Pulp Directions: Make sure your persimmons are crazy ripe (read above). Rinse the persimmons under cold water and dry gently with a paper towel. Remove the tops and cut the persimmons in half. (I used 4.) If there are seeds, remove them. Mine didn’t have any, but it’s good to check.
Scoop out the flesh into a food processor and pulse until you have a smooth puree.
Strain the puree with a fine-mesh strainer. You can use the back of a spoon to help push the puree through.
And you’re done! Now for the bread part. For this recipe, I only need 1 C of the pulp, but my 4 persimmons made exactly 2C. Perfect for making a double recipe! But if you have left over, freeze the pulp in ice-cube trays like I did for my pumpkin puree.
Now the preface to this recipe…It is supposed to be for three 6″x3″ bread pans. I don’t have that size bread pan, but this recipe makes a bit more volume than what you can comfortably fit into a 9″x5″ bread pan. You’ll definitely have a bit left over, so you can make little individual size breads in pyrex cups if you want. My problem is that I wanted to use all of my persimmons, so I doubled the recipe, which was not wise. Doubling the recipe made two 9″x5″ bread loafs, a 9″ cake pan, and two individual pyrex cups. Yowza! BUT it is delicious, so you shouldn’t have any problem getting rid of it. 😉
Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease the bread pan with butter. In a small bowl, measure out the Hachiya persimmon pulp and add the baking soda.
Mix well and let stand for at least 5 minutes for the baking soda to start to thicken the pulp. This part is actually kind of strange. The persimmons will sort of solidify in a goopy sort of way. Clearly some sort of polymerization was happening, but I’m exactly sure what the reaction was. But it was pretty interesting to watch!
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Then add the sugar, oil, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. We also added a couple dashes of ground cloves, only because cloves make everything much more Christmas-y. Whisk until smooth.
Add the thickened persimmon pulp in stages along with the water, alternating with the flour. For example, add approximately one third of the persimmon pulp with a third of the water. Mix well. Then add one third of the flour. Mix well. Repeat until you’re done.
Fold in any optional ingredients. (If you’re making a double batch, separate the batters into 2 bowls and fold in the ingredients. Don’t try to fold in the ingredients in the greased bread pans.) I decided to leave them out because my bowl was too full!
Pour the breads into the greased pans. Tap the bread pans down on the counter a couple of times to remove air pockets. Bake the breads for 1 hour, or until a toothpick comes out clean. If you’re using any smaller containers, like individual pyrex dishes or cake pans, they will cook faster, so check smaller portions after 30 minutes or so. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Then remove the breads from the pan and continue to cool on the wire rack completely.
I made these breads for my boss lady, but since I had never tried this recipe before, I wasn’t just going to give it to her and hope for the best! I had to try them…
The verdict: it’s a winner. Add it to your Christmas recipe list!