It’s persimmon time again, or at least it was, very briefly, in my parents’ yard in Louisiana. I got an email a couple of weeks ago from my dad saying that if I wanted persimmons, I’d better come get them because they were rapidly going from ripe to overripe to compost. He’d pick what was left on the trees and hold them for me, but they wouldn’t last long.
So last weekend I made a quick trip down to pick up my persimmons, along with boxes full of the citrus fruits–Meyer lemons, naval oranges, satsumas, and calamondins–that were just beginning too ripen. My kitchen now looks like a fruit stand! Fortunately, the citrus will keep, but many of the persimmons were at the use ’em or lose ’em stage. I’ve been eating them every chance I get, but since I’m the only one in my house who likes them, I knew I had to start cooking with them. My parents mentioned that they had been substituting them for banana in banana bread, so I decided to give that a try and adapted my Cherry-Walnut Banana Bread recipe.
Before I get to the recipe, let me say a word about persimmons. As I’ve written before, most of the persimmons we get in the U.S. are of two types: the acorn-shaped Hachiya, which needs to be so ripe that it’s practically squishy when you eat it or else it will be so astringent that your mouth will pucker, and the more squatty-shaped Fuyu, which is sweet and delicious even when the fruit is still firm.
Conventional wisdom says that Hachiyas are the ones you cook with, but I’m going to tell you a secret: If you let Fuyus get ripe enough, they will get soft just like Hachiyas and you can cook with them, too. The persimmons I got from my parents are Fuyus, and they’re delciously sweet whether they’re firm and crisp or soft and mushy.
I used the soft and mushy ones for this bread, about 6 of them. They had seeds, so what I did was cut them in half and scoop out the seeds and flesh with a grapefruit spoon. I tossed the seeds into a separate bowl and didn’t even try to get off the flesh that clung to them–that’s just too much work. It’s a pretty messy job, so don’t take your cutting board and bowls into the family room and watch TV while you’re doing it, or you’ll get persimmon pulp all over the coffee table and your daughter’s homework. Not that anyone would do that, of course!
The finished bread was amazingly moist and cake-like, even though I used all whole wheat flour (the white King Arthur kind) and no refined sugar. The persimmons gave it a lovely orange color, very fall-like, and the taste was mild and lightly sweet. The whole family loved it, devouring it in one day without any margarine or spread. The next time I make it, I may add a little cinnamon and cloves to spice it up, but then, I’m the spicy type.
- 1 1/4 cups persimmon mashed pulp
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup agave nectar or other liquid sweetener
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg freshly grated
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup raisins may use up to 1/2 cup
- 1/4 cup chopped walnuts optional–may use up to 1/2 cup
Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil a loaf pan or bundt pan.
In a small bowl, mix the persimmon, lemon juice, apple sauce, and agave nectar. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients, except for raisins and walnuts. Pour the wet into the dry and mix just until all flour is moistened (do not over-mix). Fold in the raisins and walnuts, if desired.
Pour into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes. (My bundt pan took closer to 40 minutes.) Allow to cool for 10 minutes and then remove from the pan. Cool completely before serving.
Low-fat quickbreads like this really benefit from being allowed to cool completely, which is why they often taste better the next day. The crust, which is chewier than breads with oil, will gather moisture and softness over time.
Nutrition info below is for bread made with 1/4 cup walnuts. Without walnuts, deduct 16 calories and 1.58g fat per serving.
In the mood for bread but don’t have persimmons? Try one of my favorite quickbread recipes:
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