Persimmons are wild autumn fruits that can be found strewn across deciduous forest floors from the first cool days of autumn until the last leaves have fallen. They are loved by raccoons, opossums, deer and other wildlife, and were an important food of many indigenous communities. The word persimmon comes from the Algonquian words for dried fruit—putchamin, pasiminan, or pessamin. Traditionally Native Americans used persimmons for mixing with corn to make a bread, making puddings, and a type of “gruel” (such an unappealing term). No doubt, Native Americans also dried the fruits for winter eating.
To make Wild Persimmon Fruit Leather:
Collect as many persimmons as you like. Make sure they are orange in color and are freshly fallen. Once you find a good tree, you can easily tell the ones that have been laying for a while from the fresh ones. Don’t ever pick wild persimmons directly from the tree or you will be shocked by how astringent they are. Once they fall though, they are sweet and delicious.
Wash and remove the petal/stem.
Using a wire mesh colander or a jam/tomato masher-strainer, with a wooden spoon or pestle, push the persimmon fruits through the strainer to remove the skins and seeds, and reserve the pulp.
If you have a food dehydrator (solar or electric) spread the pulp out to approximately 1/8 inch thick. Dry until the pulp is dry to the touch, but not crispy.
If you use an oven, line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread the pulp 1/8 inch thick. Dry on the lowest setting possible for several hours, until dry to the touch, but not crispy.
Using the sharp tip of a paring knife, cut the fruit leather in long strips at least a few inches wide. Roll the strips and place them in a storage container. You can tie them if you like with string. I usually just use pack the rolls into a mason jar. Store in an airtight container for as long as it takes you to eat them up (not long I bet).
To find locally grown food in your neck of the woods, visit our website, Pick-A-Pepper.com
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