Category Archives: Gleaning Food

Tis’ the Season for Persimmons

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!

Community Cider Pressing

A few weeks back we hosted a community cider pressing with the family apple press.

The day before, the kids and I combed the neighborhood for unpicked apple trees. When we found a full tree we’d knock on the door of the house and ask the owner if we could pick. We’d fill our wagon, clean up after ourselves and call out “THANK YOU!” as we pulled away. It felt like we were thanking the tree as much as we were thanking the homeowner. Often in the middle of picking I’d find the kids all lined up on the sidewalk happily eating a fresh-picked apple. All smiles. Juice dripping down their chins.

My favorite quote from one of those forays is the guy who said, “Oh yeah, those apple aren’t any good for eating. Take them all. I don’t use them”. The kids and I all agreed that those were definitely the BEST apples we had ever eaten. I still meet people who really feel that store bought anything is better than homegrown and homemade.

In our neighborhood alone we glean apples, persimmons, quince, oranges, tangerines, lemons, limes, peaches, nectarines, apricots, plums, pears, loquats, blackberries, pomegranates, and walnuts. A vast majority of that food goes completely unpicked by the homeowners. Sometimes they seem relieved that we will “haul” it away. They see it as something they have to clean up instead of something wonderful to eat. Then, they drive to the store to buy produce from Mexico and Chile.

I have brought folks persimmon bread (with a recipe attached), apricot jam, quince jam, and freshly pressed apple juice. It helps when someone else sees the value in something we take for granted.

In the summer Petaluma does have a “Produce Swap”. It’s held down at the Fourth and Sea parking lot across from the Post Office. More and more folks are seeing the bounty of the urban food forest.

Fresh and in season. There is nothing like it!