Bright orange Persimmons grow wild in southern Illinois! Who knew? I knew autumn was persimmon season and I usually buy one a year, taking a gamble that the fruit won’t be too bitterly tannic to enjoy. The trick is to let the fruit ripen until so mushy it feels rotten. I’m impatient. So I usually cut into it too early. The result: It's so bitter it makes your teeth hurt!
The fruit is about 1 1/2" in diameter
On our camping trip over the weekend to the Shawnee National Forest, we discovered tall persimmon trees dotted through parts of the forest. But they were hard to spot as the orange fruit blended in with the gorgeous orange foliage of other trees. When we did find a persimmon tree, the best part was that Mother Nature had already done the ripening for us! The most delicious persimmons were mushy and so ripe that they turned a blue-ish hue, that’s right, blue!
Biting into the soft fruit was heaven; they were rich and super sweet with a heady honey aroma and flavor. The girls and I ate a lot of them; many right off the ground. This year we enjoyed more than our one-a-year persimmon – foraged not from the supermarket, but from the surprisingly rich bounty of Land of Lincoln.
While growing up on a ranch in Montana, I learned to appreciate food by watching my parents take it from the field to the plate. I helped my mother garden, preserve vegetables and milk the cow. Loving food led me to a career as a registered dietitian. And now as a mom, I enjoy teaching my children to cook and appreciate how food gets to their plate – here in a Chicago suburb. At the end of the day, it sometimes seems that all I've accomplished is to get dinner on the table. But if my kids helped, a lesson was learned and we most certainly had fun.