Texas Persimmon, Diospyros texana
Eat the black ripe fruit raw or use the pulp in wine, breads, pies, jams, sauces and puddings. Be sure to get all the pulp off around the seeds, but don’t eat them!
Some places in South, West and Central Texas are blessed with Texas persimmon thickets so productive that one can pick gallons full of ripe fruit off of one tree in mid-summer. Eating a perfectly ripe Texas persimmon is as wonderful as indulging in a berry patch. In Texas’ version of Eden, Eve probably would have been tempted by this luscious fruit. Then again, the risk of encountering poison ivy or a snake is low since the persimmons are usually and conveniently picked right around eye level – just be sure you have your boots on.
Texas persimmons are slow-growing, multi-trunked trees with a semi-evergreen habit. Their light grey bark is smooth and sloughs off in large flakes as the tree ages. When the tree has received moisture at the right times during the year, the black-colored ripe persimmons can be as large as golf balls though they are more commonly the size of large marbles. Either way, their taste is something like a prune, but less tart and more sugary making it one of the best tasting wild fruits in Texas.
Ripe persimmons will look plump, round and smooth and can easily be pulled from their limbs. Squeeze the inner pulp out of the skin and into your mouth for a lovely treat on a hot summer afternoon. Once you’ve sucked all the pulpy sweetness off the seeds, spit them out and eat another. You’ll need to indulge in several to feel full. Then, pick as many as you can for your recipes. When you arrive back in your kitchen, wash and dry them – they will store in the refrigerator for a couple of days or freeze them for several months. Most recipes using persimmons will call for persimmon pulp - about 4 cups of Texas persimmons will make 1 cup of pulp. Since Texas persimmons are small, you’ll want to make every effort at pulping count. After you’ve removed the stem end or calyx, use a cone sieve or food mill for best results and employ a rubber spatula to scrape the sides every once in awhile. Once you’ve collected as much pulp as possible, there will still be quite a bit of pulp stuck to the seeds and the sides of your sieve. Run a rubber spatula down the sides of the sieve, and then clean the seeds off in your mouth to get that final bit of goodness. You can also throw the entire pulpy fruit blob in a saucepan, add some water and make it into persimmon juice for jelly.