A Fantastic Quick Bread With A Favorite Southern Ingredient
When my family and I recently moved into our new house, we heard rumors of the amazing persimmon tree in our neighbor's yard—Japanese persimmons grafted onto a Carolina persimmon trunk. When the tree set fruit it was magnificent; bright orange persimmons, a shock against the crisp fall sky. To my delight, I came home one day this fall to a basket full of these beauties on my kitchen counter.
There are two varieties of persimmons readily available in American grocery stores: Fuyu and Hachiya. Fuyu are lighter in color, a bit squat in shape, and beloved for their honeyed flavor when eaten fresh. Hachiya are darker in color, oblong in shape, and are best when eaten very ripe or roasted. All 100 counties of North Carolina are also home to a third variety of persimmon, the American persimmon. These persimmons (including the bountiful one in my neighbor's yard) bear sweet, spicy fruit that must be gathered from the ground when very ripe. Roasted persimmons have a sweet, mellow flavor that lends itself to both desserts and savory dishes.
A strong craving for freshly baked bread this weekend inspired me to adapt my classic banana bread recipe to compliment my bounty of persimmons. Brown sugar, buttermilk, raw pecans, and roasted persimmons combine to make a quick bread that is slightly sweet, a little bit chewy, and crisp around the edges. I've been eating the loaf once slice at a time this week, toasted and smeared with a little salted butter.
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As we roll straight into the holidays and my desk fills higher and higher with sweets and candy, it's nice to have a balance. Nothing beats a slice of hot buttered sweet bread with my morning cup of coffee and I'm so thankful that I have enough roasted persimmons in the freezer to see me through winter. It's the little things, you know?
Elena Rosemond-Hoerr is a Southern food writer, photographer, and cookbook author based in Wilmington, North Carolina.