Spirit of the Harvest: Choctaw Persimmon Pudding

January 20, 2010

Renowned food author Beverly Cox, winner of the James Beard cookbook award, a Julia Child award and a IACP cookbook award, and food editor for Native Peoples Magazine, contributes a monthly column and weekly recipes to TankaBar.com. The Spirit of the Harvest columns are published the second Wednesday of every month. Recipes from Beverly run on intervening Wednesdays.

Preparation time: 30 to 60 minutes
Makes: 6 servings


10 very ripe Native American persimmons (can substitute 2 cups of canned, sweetened persimmon pulp*)
2 eggs
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 cups unbleached flour
heavy cream, whipped or ice cream (optional)


Scoop fresh persimmon flesh from the skin. Discard seeds and puree flesh in a food processor or by pressing through a sieve. You will need 2 cups of pulp. Reserve.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, then stir in buttermilk, sugar, butter, flour and reserved persimmon. Combine thoroughly.

Pour batter into a 9x12-inch shallow, nonreactive baking dish. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until evenly browned on top.

Cut pudding into squares and serve warm or at room temperature. Top with whipped cream or ice cream, if desired.

* If using canned, sweetened persimmon pulp, omit sugar in recipe.

NOTES: The Native American persimmon (a corruption of the Algonquin word "pessimin") grows wild throughout the southeastern United States. It is different in flavor and much smaller than the Oriental persimmons that appear during fall and winter months in produce markets throughout the country. In fact, there really is no substitute for this regional specialty.

Both Indian tribes and European settlers in the Southeast used persimmons extensively in puddings, breads, and other confections. We were eager to include a recipe but concerned about the lack of availability of the fruit nationwide. Therefore, we were very pleased to hear about Dymple Green, of Mitchell, IN, whose company sells canned sweetened persimmon pulp.

This recipe comes from Lola Lively Burgess, a Choctaw woman married to a Cherokee man. The pudding is sold at their Eagle's Nest Gift Shop in Cherokee, NC. As we couldn't get fresh persimmons, we used sweetened, canned pulp in this recipe and found it delicious.

Beverly Cox is the food editor of Native Peoples Magazine and a former food editor and director of food styling for Cook's Magazine. She holds a Grand Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and apprenticed with Gaston LeNotre.

Beverly has written 13 cookbooks, including Spirit of the Harvest, North American Indian Cooking, winner of the James Beard and IACP cookbook awards in 1992, and Spirit of the West, Cooking from Ranch House and Range, winner of a Julia Child award in 1997, and Spirit of the Earth, Native Cooking from Latin America, an IACP cookbook award finalist in 2002, all co-authored with food photographer Martin Jacobs. Their most recent book is Eating Cuban, 120 Authentic Recipes from the Streets of Havana to American Shores.

Beverly and her husband, Gordon Black, an architect turned rancher, live on the historic Eagle Rock Ranch in Northern Colorado where her great grandfather homesteaded in 1872. Beverly teaches hands-on cooking classes for small groups who want to combine cooking with the experience of visiting a working cattle ranch.

You can contact Beverly at BeverlyCox@TankaBar.com

For more information about Beverly's cookbooks featuring Native American recipes:

Body, Mind and Spirit: Native Cooking of the Americas

Spirit of the Harvest: North American Indian Cooking

Spirit of the Earth: Native Cooking from Latin America

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