’07 Holiday Gifts: Fancy Jam

December 18, 2007 at 9:09 am 19 comments

American Persimmons 

I have a problem.  I’m an impulse buyer.  I’m especially prone to impulsive purchases when it comes to fresh produce.  Shocking, right?  You should see how wide my eyes and how full my shopping cart get when I visit the Asian supermarket’s produce section with all its unusual fresh fare to be discovered.  It’s even worse when I visit farmers markets where I feel justified in making unplanned purchases since it supports local agriculture.  Never mind that I don’t even know what it is that I’ve just bought.  

Locally grown persimmones and cranberries

Persimmons.  Even had one?  Well, I hadn’t until one blustery day two weeks ago when I visited the die-hards at Headhouse.  Heck, I didn’t even know what persimmons looked like, let alone what to do with them.  But they looked funky (in a good – not rotten – way), and since I’m always curious about unusual local fruit I bought a pint.  I got home and put them in the bottom drawer of my fridge and forgot all about them.  That is, until I decided to make some homemade jam for my holiday gift bags.  Jam seemed the perfect, and perhaps only, use for these odd little fruits resembling tiny soft pumpkins (in my opinion at least).  You see, persimmons, or at least the American persimmons that I had purchased, are full of big seeds that impede any hungry mouths trying to gobble them down.  However, being quite sweet and soft, they do lend themselves to jams.  I also still had about two cups of cranberries left from my previous Headhouse visits.   After sluething around online for a jam that called for one of my two local fruits, I decided to toss them in a pot with some frozen strawberries and citrus to see how it would all come together. 

Insides of a persimmon

Well, there’s no doubt that the jam is mighty tasty. It’s been packaged up with homemade rolls (recipe coming Thusday) and sent on its merry way.  But I’m somewhat doubtful about any future impulsive persimmon buying.  The removal of the seeds proved quite messy, and I’m not sure the fruit’s flavor was very distinctive in the final compote.   Still, it was fun to give them a try, and I do think it’s worth the experiment if you’ve never had a persimmon before.  American persimmons are still in season here in the mid-Atlantic region since they aren’t picked until after the frost, which sweetens and ripens this atypical fruit. 

Chopped frozen strawberries

Speaking of “justifying” purchases under the banner of buying local, I’d like to encourage anyone who might be still finishing up holiday shopping to do so at a local independently-owned shop in your neighborhood.  I tried this in part last year, buying about half of my gifts away from the crushing masses of humanity otherwise known as “the mall.”  This year I bought every single gift (except for a heated mattress pad that couldn’t be had anywhere but online) from wonderfully unique shops in Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill

And you know what?  Every single one of the gifts I found are superb, and the experience on a whole was actually pleasurable!  No crowds, no long lines, no traffic jams or fighting for a parking spot, no bad customer service…in fact, just the opposite.  Warm friendly shop owners happily engaged me in conversation about their wares and told me stories about why they’d thought a certain item was a good fit for their customers, myself included.  I’ve already made a mental note to be sure after the New Year to take you on a little tour of a remarkable used bookshop in Mt. Airy that makes me so happy, it almost hurts.  Spending my hard-earned cash in places like this can’t be anything but a win-win-win-win situation for me, the gift recipient, the shop owner, and the whole neighborhood! 

Holiday Sparkling Jam

CRIMSON SPARKLING HOLIDAY JAM
Loosely adapted from Allrecipes.com

1 ½ c. fresh cranberries
8-10 ripe persimmons
1 ½ lbs. (about 5 cups) frozen strawberries, somewhat thawed
1 (2 oz.) package of powdered fruit pectin
1 t. margarine
4  c. granulated sugar
Juice of one tangerine
Juice and zest of one lemon

Prior to making the jam, sterilize jars and lids in boiling water or the dishwasher.  Place lids in a shallow saucepan, cover with water and bring to a low simmer while you make the jam.

Chop cranberries and strawberries.  Prepare persimmons by cutting off stems and picking out the seeds with your fingers.  This process is a bit messy so just get as much of the persimmon flesh as you can.  

Place all the fruit in a large deep saucepan.  Add pectin, margarine, juices and zest and stir over medium heat until it begins to bubble.  Stir in sugar and return to a boil.  Cook for 5 minutes at a boil, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat. 

Place a jar in a shallow bowl and ladle hot jam into it, leaving ½ inch space at the top.  Wipe rim clean and screw on the lid (remove lid from simmering pan with tongs).  Repeat until all the jam is in jars.  Place jars in a boiling water bath, covering top by one inch, for five minutes.  Remove and turn upside down to cool.  Test lids to be sure they have sealed. 

Keep for yourself or package together with some homemade rolls for a nice holiday gift.

(makes 4-5 eight ounce jars)
 

persimmons

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19 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Y.  |  December 18, 2007 at 11:17 am

    In California, persimmons are very much in season (or was the last time I went to the farmer’s market two weeks ago). We have the Fuji (or Fuyu?-look like a tomato) and acorn-looking varities. I love the Fuji ones; I eat them whole. Either there are no seeds, or I just don’t notice them. Probably the latter. lol. ~~Happy Holidays!

    Reply
    • 2. Show Me  |  October 13, 2012 at 9:16 pm

      The ones you are eating are not the Native American Persimmon if you don’t run into 6 to 8 seeds in each fruit. Seeds are about the size of big pumpkin seeds only black. The fruits are about the size of a ping pong ball if it’s been a good year, mostly smaller. You are getting the Asian Persimmons. Here in the Arkansas Ozarks, there are a lot of Native American Persimmons. I have yet to see them in the farmers market, but we have 3 trees on our farm and my daughter who lives in town has at least 13 trees. The fruit is almost alway ripe way befor frost, and most often gone to coons and other critters by the first frost. They are very drought tolerant as well. We have had two successive droughts and this year the trees are loaded! They are also bigger than ever. They make excellant pies. We used a pumpking pie recipe a few years ago to start with and they were great, same as pumpkin bread recipes. Enjoy!

      Reply
  • 3. Jennie  |  December 18, 2007 at 11:54 am

    Y – Interesting… you must be getting Japanese varieties there in Cali. You would notice the seeds if you were eating the American ones I had here. :) Thanks for the comment and happy holidays to you as well!

    Reply
  • 4. gintoino  |  December 18, 2007 at 12:13 pm

    Not a big fan of persimmons (we call it diospiros in Portugal), but have to admit the jam looks fantastic (ofcourse, we have the “cranberrie issue” still ;-) ). Our persimmons are a lot bigger than that, they about the size of a medium/big tomato (in fact they look a lot like tomatos)

    Reply
  • 5. Jennie  |  December 18, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    Gintoino – Too funny…I really want to get some cranberries to you! :) It sounds like you might have a similar variety of diospiros/persimmons as Y. does in California. I wish we had those here as I think I might like them better. This little American variety was very cute to look at but not much fun to use. Well, at least you have diospiros in Portugal! :)

    Reply
  • 6. taylor  |  December 18, 2007 at 7:08 pm

    I can’t believe someone was selling the native American persimmon! That’s great, but they are so tiny. That’s why most people opt for the larger, tomato-sized Asian persimmon you find in the grocery store. You’re a trooper for making jam with those! Hope Santa’s kind to you.

    Also, I hate to be a boob (you’ll be one soon![inside info,I’m not a biatch]), but did you mean to link to the paw paw (Asimina triloba)? It’s also a native American fruit, but very different from the persimmon (Diospyros virginiana). Paw paws are oh so good – sweet, almost like a creamy banana. They’re kind of stinky when they’re ripe, and they ripen very quickly, so don’t travel well, or are even cultivated often for mass consumption. A real treat if you find them when out hiking, though.

    Reply
  • 7. Jennie  |  December 18, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Woops, good catch, Taylor! This is why I should proof read my final posts more closely. I’d written a sentence about how persimmons and pawpaws are two of the more random native fruits and somehow ended up chopping it all up….all fixed now. Thanks for the boob alert! :) And yes, someone was really selling these American persimmons at Headhouse. I love the way they look but I did not love the processing of them. Still, good for jam and good to just try for the heck of it. :)

    Reply
  • 8. ‘07 Holiday Gifts: Miracle Bread « Straight from the Farm  |  December 20, 2007 at 11:10 am

    […] hadn’t necessarily planned on making anything else.  But then I figured a package that contained this and this, two items that just begged to be spread on something right out of the bag, had better have […]

    Reply
  • 9. Christine  |  December 21, 2007 at 8:19 pm

    Ooh, do I want a jar of this jam…I’ll trade you an apple jelly for a persimmon jam!

    Reply
  • 10. Jennie  |  December 21, 2007 at 8:27 pm

    Christine – Deal! :)

    Reply
  • 11. Jane  |  December 21, 2007 at 10:20 pm

    Hmm, interesting persimmons! I’ve never seen that variety before. I LOVE persimmons and didn’t even realize what those were. Odd, as the seeds look huge. I’ve never seen seeds in the varieties I get.

    Anyway, I took a couple photos of what they sell here in socal for one of my friends, who has never seen them before:

    my favorite kind of persimmon

    persimmons

    (also, just for fun: http://www.flickr.com/photos/chix0r/2056533852/ a misshapen one home-grown by one of my friends)

    Reply
  • 12. Jennie  |  December 22, 2007 at 11:39 pm

    Jane – Wow, talk about “interesting”…that last picture is a keeper! ;) Yes, these are definitely a less common variety of persimmons. Apparently the kinds most folks are getting originated in Japan. The variety I used here are native to America. Like I said, not sure I’d use them again due to the seeds but they were pretty fun nonetheless. Thanks for sharing photos of yours!! :)

    Reply
  • 13. maven  |  February 13, 2008 at 10:39 am

    Nice to see American ‘simmons in a recipe for a change! I’m always trying to convert the Japanese persimmon recipes for the tiny native persimmons that grow with such abandon around our farm. It’s a hit or miss proposition. I wish more of these recipes would list “X cups of pulp” rather than “4 or 5 X type persimmons”.

    Reply
  • 14. Jennie  |  February 13, 2008 at 10:44 am

    Glad to be of help, Maven! I’d love to hear about some of your successful conversions as I want to do more with them in the future… :)

    Reply
  • 15. Old to You, New to Me « Straight from the Farm  |  March 31, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    […] still got a few jars of Sparkling Holiday Jam hanging out in my cupboards so I thought that would be a great flavor to use in my very first bread […]

    Reply
  • 16. Linda  |  September 5, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    So to follow up on the topic of converting from American to Japanese, do you know how much (volume) or how many Japanese persimmons I’d need for this recipe? I’ve never done anything with them before, but at work here in Fresno, CA, several people bring them in to share when their trees are fruiting. My hobby has been to turn peoples’ fruit into jams and cobblers, and this one should be a fun surprise for them. Thanks for any help/guesses you can provide!

    Reply
  • 17. Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener  |  November 3, 2009 at 7:12 am

    Thanks for the recipe: as our native persimmons will be ripening soon, I am gathering ideas on what to do.

    A ripe American persimmon is indeed a fruit of the gods (the meaning of its botanical name). But even slightly underripe, it’s unbelievably tannic!

    I use a food meal to remove the seeds. Slightly cook the persimmon that process through the food mill: the pulp and skin gets pureed and goes through, the seeds don’t. While still relatively intensive, it’s a lot less messy than by hand.

    Reply
  • 18. Derek Morris  |  March 19, 2012 at 8:42 am

    American persimmons make an outstanding jam on thier own. I use a cone shaped colander and use a wooden pestle to seperate the skin and seeds from the pulp. This is not that hard to do. Measure the pulp and add the same amount of sugar then simmer (do not boil) this mixture for twenty minutes stirring frequently to keep from sticking. Place in container and keep in the fridge for up to 3 months or it could be proccessed for canning or freezing.

    Reply
    • 19. Show Me  |  October 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm

      Have you ever used pectin or Sure Jell in your jam? And how long would you process them? Do you add any other spices? I made red and yellow tomatoes preserves this year and added some spices including cloves and cinnamon. One recipe called for very thinnly sliced lemon. It was delicious. Looking forward to your answer.

      Reply

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