There is an extraordinarily ugly persimmon tree beside our house. I first noticed what it was last year and I was determined to make jelly from the persimmons. I did a little research and found that persimmons must be picked at the right time as they are very astringent if picked too early. Typically, persimmons gain sweetness after the first hard frost of the fall. We picked the nice pretty orange ones in late November last year after a good, solid frost and made the nice pale orange jelly shown below.
Now when people say astringent, I thought they meant a little bitey. Little did I know…so I decided to make some toast and try my new pretty orange persimmoon jelly. It smelled so good so I took an extra big bite. As soon as the jelly hit my mouth, it promptly caved my face in on itself. Holy moley! What does astringent mean again!?
from wikipedia: “Astringency is also the dry, puckering mouth feeling caused by tannins found in many fruits such as blackthorn, bird cherry and persimmon fruits, and banana skins. The tannins denature the salivary proteins, causing a rough “sandpapery” sensation in the mouth”
A sandpapery sensation in the mouth…uh, yeah! That’s one way to put it…I’d say more like eating an entire beach! Anyhow, I am pretty determined about things so I decided to try again this year…but I waited a little later to harvest the fruit. It looked a little different this time. Persimmons, when fully ripe (apparently around January 2 in WV), are dark, mushy, super stickey and a very mild sweet flavor (I tried one from the tree this year rather than making the whole batch into jelly, without tasting the fruit). This year’s jelly is no where near as pretty, but it is very tasty, though very mild. The darker fruit and jelly are from this year. So, if you find an extraordanarily ugly persimmon tree nearby, wait until the persimmons are good and ripe or risk looking like this.
The recipe I used was pinched from epicurian.com:
Wash fruit, remove blossom ends. Put in 6 to 8 quart non reactive pot. Add water. Bring to boil. Mash persimmons. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Use food mill or strainer to remove pits. Measure 3 cups of pulp. Stir in lemon juice and pectin. Bring to boil and add honey all at once. Bring to full rolling boil and boil 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Jar, seal and water bath can for 5 minutes.