It’s February and we’re already thinking of sorbet and Scrub Jay fledglings.
Yes, it’s early February and the Wild Plum outside our kitchen window is in full bloom. It’s always the first tree to bloom on our little homestead. It grows on the shady North side of the house and gets it’s water from the underground spring that also feeds the giant Redwood further back in the yard. It is always the indicator of approaching Spring. It has served as the sunning spot for the resident Scrub Jays for years and years. It was here when we bought the place and was probably planted by earlier generations of these same Birds. It’s smack in front of the “garage” doors and no human in their right mind would plant it there.
We feel blessed by this tree in so many ways. The blossoms, the birds, the fruit, a beautiful natural dye from it’s leaves, plum jam and… sorbet!
A couple of years ago my Wild Plum jam did not set and as disappointing as that was it lead to a new discovery. I realized I could simply pour it into the little Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker (a Recycletown find and easily found in thriftshops) and make sorbet. I add some dried ginger but you could add fresh grated too. Plum Ginger Sorbet is a huge hit around here. We always make it during our Spring Herb Camp and the kids love it.
“Thank you” little plum tree for being so giving…
Persimmons in the Winter here are like Zucchini in the Summer here. They are everywhere and no one knows what to do with all of them. You might come home to find a bag of them mysteriously deposited on your front porch (we do!). One neighbor simply sets up a flood light aimed up at the tree from the ground just to show the beauty of the bare tree full of bright orange fruit. It is a glorious sight indeed.
I’ve always let them get soft and then scoop out the pulp for use in puddings, breads and pies. I pre-measure 1-2 cups and freeze it in labeled zip-loc bags for future use. It’s funny, I never think to use it until the Fall or Winter. Maybe it’s the warm color of it when I’m feeling cold.
Our favorite Persimmon Pudding recipe is from Bradley Ogden’s Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner- Savory American Fare for Contemporary Cooks. I also simply substitute persimmon pulp for pumpkin in pie and bread recipes. I’m about to try the “Chocolate Persimmon Muffins” in my new favorite cookbook Good to the Grain- Baking with Whole-Grain Flours.
Yesterday, with a kitchen full of bowls overflowing with Fuyu Persimmons I dried my first batch in the dehydrator. I have to confess here that I am not a fan of the fruit uncooked. It’s just too sweet for me. I know LOTS of folks who love to eat Fuyu’s like apples and others who love to scoop out the pulp of a very ripe Hachiya. Well, I’m now a fan of the dried fruit. To me it tastes like dried Mango. Yum!
It’s time at the ol’ homestead to harvest Strawberry Guavas. Psidium cattleianum (or Cattley Guava). Our little tree (more like a bush) has been in for a few years. It was a gift from farmer friends in Fillmore, California. The plant seems quite happy here in Petaluma. We’ve got it planted against a south facing wall of the house with our citrus so it’s protected from frost. It doesn’t seem to mind our adobe soil and it gets blasted with sun in the summer. A permaculture plant for sure as it needs no attention once it’s established and bears large quantities of fruit.
Here is a description from the Trade Winds Fruit website:
Dark red skinned guava, closely related to the common guava, with an excellent strawberry like flavor. Fruits are small, to 1.5″ around, and the pulp is translucent and very juicy. In some varieties, the flesh can taste pleasantly spicy.
Description: Small bush or tree to 20-25ft, although often much smaller.
Hardiness: Strawberry guava’s are hardy to 22F when full grown.
Growing Environment: The strawberry guava is very adaptable and can be grown outdoors throughout much of Florida and California. It will fruit in a container almost anywhere if protected from hard freezes. Trees grow well in full sun and with ample water, although short periods of drought will not harm the plant. Lots of water is needed during fruit development and for proper ripening to occur. The yellow strawberry guava (Psidium cattlenium var. lucidum) is said to be not quite as hardy as the standard red strawberry guava, but seems to survive temperatures to 25F.
Propagation: Usually by seed, sometimes by cuttings.
Native Range: Native to coastal areas of Eastern Brazil.
Uses: Usually eaten fresh or used to flavor beverages, ice creams, and desserts.