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Visions of persimmons dancing in my head

Posted on December 19, 2021 | Comments

Somehow Thanksgiving has already come and gone, and Hanukkah celebrations were early this year. At least there’s still time to share a favorite Christmas tradition.

First a little background. As a child, I was not a big fan of big holiday meal gatherings. Don’t get me wrong, I loved getting together with family and friends. Just wasn’t crazy about the menu. During my free-spirited travel days, I relished holiday menus of other cultures such as eating Thanksgiving dinner at a Greek restaurant in Germany or celebrating New Year’s with Brazilian fare one year and a New Zealand buffet for another. Yet, I do have a childhood memory of a dessert that I love to make during the holidays. It’s my late mother’s persimmon pudding recipe with lemon sauce.

My mother grew up on a farm near Grand Island, Neb., and from what I learned on Google, it’s a typical Midwest dessert. While I don’t recall her telling me that, she typically made cookies and breads from seasonal fruits and vegetables. Since persimmons are a plentiful fall fruit, making a tasty pudding with them made sense.  

Considered an American tradition, the pudding texture is similar to traditional English desserts like Christmas or quince pudding. Originally, it was steamed or cooked in an oven with a water bath which is how my mother baked it. I’ve found that a glass baking dish also works. Since there are so many recipes, I’m sharing my mom’s which is the only recipe I’ve ever eaten.

Using a low-speed mixer, combine well: 1 c. Fuyu persimmon pulp, 1 c. sugar, 1 egg and ½ c. milk. Add sifted ingredients: 1 c. flour, ¼ tsp. salt, 2 tsp. baking soda, ¼ tsp. cinnamon, ¼ tsp. nutmeg. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla, 1 tsp. lemon juice, 1 T. melted margarine and 1 c. chopped nuts. Spoon mixture into an 8-inch square baking dish and bake in 325-degree oven for at least 1 ½ hours.

To make lemon sauce: sift 2 T. cornstarch and 1 c. sugar to keep it from lumping; then combine with dash of salt and 2 c. boiling water. Cook over medium heat; stirring occasionally until boiling and clear, about 5 minutes. Stir in 6 T. lemon juice and 4 T. butter. Drizzle lemon sauce over individual pudding servings. Both should be warm.

Just thinking about this recipe motivates me to get some persimmons and get in the kitchen soon. It’s also that time for me to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy New Year.

Originally published—OC Register, December 9, 2021

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