Persimmon Pudding

November  5, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 12
Author Notes

Diospyros virginiana or the American persimmon tree has a long history in the state of Indiana and the Midwest dating back to the Native Americans who cultivated it for its fruit and the beautiful wood. The American persimmon is the only persimmon I would use for pudding. You want to buy the pulp and trust me pulping these buggers is a chore best left to the professionals. Every dish in your cupboard will wind up with black pulp, left behind in the dishwasher, on them and if the seeds get into your disposal you may as well remove it and go buy another. That said there is nothing like the smell of perfectly ripe American persimmon pulp and the darker it is the better. It should be close to mahogany in color. I always buy it in 16 oz. containers and I buy 3 or 4 at a time because they age while hanging out in the freezer and I believe the older the better. Persimmon is full of tannins, so like wine, if it sits it mellows. I have some frozen five year old pulp and it is just getting good. Now on to the recipe. If you remember my Freedom Pork and Sticky Greens recipe you will remember Marie. She gave me the original recipe for this and this is my tweaked version that has come together over the years. The dark muscovado sugar is really important as is the semolina so don't skimp, and finally, don't sub out the buttermilk. The buttermilk gives it the character that makes the pudding for me. This is a sentimental and prized recipe for me so if you like this sort of thing I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. So this is for Marie who by allowing me to photograph her life also allowed me to win the college version of the Pulitzer prize(The Hearst Foundation) for a photo essay and in doing so also taught me a good deal of Indiana culinary history. —thirschfeld

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • a pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup fine semolina flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • two finger pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 cups American persimmon pulp
  • 1 1/2 cups cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup dark muskovado sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter melted
  • (for the whipped cream)
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place a rack in the middle position. Butter a 13 x 9 baking dish.
  2. Sift the two flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking powder into a bowl.
  3. Combine the persimmon pulp, eggs and two sugars in another bowl and mix. In the measuring cup mix the buttermilk with the baking soda and pour it into the pulp.
  4. Whisk the flour into the pulp mixture and whisk. Add the cream and melted butter and pour it into the prepared pan.
  5. Bake it in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Remove from the oven and cool completely. The pudding will deflate as it cools so don't worry.
  7. To make the whipped cream, whip heavy whipping cream until it begins to froth. Add the vanilla and 1/4 cup of powdered sugar. Whip until stiff peaks form. Serve the pudding with a dollop of whipped cream.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
  • Midge
  • iuzzini
  • Kayb

21 Reviews

arcane54 December 3, 2011
Oh I miss American persimmons. I used to scoop them up off the forest floor of Southern Illinois, all dark and barely holding together. We separated the pulp from the seeds by hand and it was a squishy affair. They make the most wonderful bread and puddings. I miss the midwest and I think a persimmon tree is in my future. In the meantime, I'll be looking for a source for pulp.
Oui, C. November 12, 2010
Great story, Tom, and a lovely sounding dish as well. I can't say that I've ever seen frozen persimmon pulp, though to be fair, I've never really looked for it. I imagine there must be some on-line source for the stuff. Certainly worth the effort to track down to make this sentimental favorite. - S
BoulderGalinTokyo November 11, 2010
Thank you for a wonderful history. I lived in Franklin, Ind. until 11 but had never tried a persimmon until age 25. We are not big fans of custard or bread puddings, so I had my husband chop down 2 of 4 persimmon trees! This year they were wonderful, I've created many savory dishes with the persimmons, and now I'm thinking "blasphemy, how awful of me..."
Looking forward to trying your recipe.
JosieD November 10, 2010
I have made a version of this pudding with pumpkin puree that came out really well. I love how you can sub in different varieties of flours... I've tried spelt and cornmeal. Yum.
Midge November 8, 2010
Great headnote and photos. Don't know if we can buy permission pulp in the Northeast, but will keep my eyes peeled.
iuzzini November 7, 2010
In Mitchell people put down tarps to collect all the persimmons as they fall from the trees- to help prevent them from rotting- and today I noticed they are selling fresh persimmons and frozen pulp in our food co-op (here in Bloomington). Is anyone here still in Indiana?
thirschfeld November 8, 2010
iuzzini, I have seen nets that keep them off the ground and give them a soft landing so they don't bruise. I have also found some people think if the fruits freeze on the tree they are better than if not and I also understand you want them to fall from the tree which means they are ripe.
thomas_england November 7, 2010
Growing up in Northern Indiana I had never heard of Persimmons. It wasn't until Karen and I started dating that I experienced Persimmon Pudding for the first time (her family is from near Mitchel and they have a very old Persimmon orchard). I have dreams some nights about it now. When I wake up in the morning my pillow is wet from drewl.
What style of pudding is this recipe...custard like or more like a pie filling?
thirschfeld November 8, 2010
thomas_england, glad to see you here. Hope you will post some of your great recipes. It isn't really custardy or like pumpkin pie filling and it isn't like a sheet cake either. I would say it is more like sticky toffee pudding without the sticky toffee. I didn't know there was such a thing as a persimmon orchard. Do they sell them commercially?
Kayb November 7, 2010
I used to eat persimmons off the tree in our pasture (and, oh, the pucker when they weren't quite ripe!), and my father would always call me his "little possum," as opossums apparently love the things. Never tried to cook with them. I'll look for persimmon pulp and try this!
thirschfeld November 8, 2010
The first time my daughter Vivian and I went to pick from a neighbors tree she bit into one and so did I. They were so tannic we were both gaging. And yes possums love the things. If you have ever eaten possum you want to wait till after persimmon season and the first freeze. There is a history in this country of possum and sweet potatoes. Last year, while I was home alone, my wife had taken the kids on a trip, I decided it was time to make a possum dinner. This wouldn't be the first time I had eaten possum but I had never cooked it. So fried possum with baked sweet potatoes was the menu. While I wouldn't want to eat it every day, because it is really rich, it was really good.
thirschfeld November 8, 2010

I have heard of these dinners and I have heard rumor of one taking place at a church in southern Indiana and my understanding is it is always sold out but I have yet to confirm this as true
Sagegreen November 6, 2010
What a great photo, headnote and recipe!
thirschfeld November 6, 2010
Thank you Sagegreen.
ellenl November 6, 2010
Where can you get persimmon pulp in the Northeast?
thirschfeld November 6, 2010
If it is like the Midwest a lot of orchards will carry it in the Fall and some farm stands do as well.
iuzzini November 6, 2010
Ah yes- persimmons and Indiana sure go together- For the years I worked down in Bedford, we would be stuffed full of persimmon pudding, cakes, donuts, etc. in preparation for Mitchell's persimmon festival. :) Your recipe sounds like an interesting version! Pretty sure it would be the first persimmon dessert I've had with semolina.
thirschfeld November 6, 2010
I have always meant to get to Mitchell for the festival but haven't made it there yet. I hope to one of these days.
dymnyno November 5, 2010
Where do you find aged pulp?
dymnyno November 5, 2010
We have a lot of persimmon trees around here...they are so beautiful when they lose their leaves and just the day-glo persimmons are left on the trees. I didn't know that you could freeze the pulp. I have always considered it a seasonal thing...so many of them that they are more ornamental that food.
thirschfeld November 5, 2010
they are stunning and, yes, I think it is a seasonal thing and only bake or cook with them in the Fall months but I do think there is something about aging the pulp.