Our next door neighbour, a dear old Italian woman gave Jess a dozen persimmons. "Put them in a bag with an apple for a few days to ripen them up". We didn't have any apples and we're far too lazy to buy one. And so the persimmons sat, unripened, on the kitchen bench for a week. Well, the kitchen bench, then the window sill, then back to the bench and then upon the fridge.
Hey! There are bananas up here!
Ok. No more fruit on the fridge.
I decided I would make persimmon jam.
I diced the fruit using a fruit slicer I found in the second draw down. When did we get this? It gives me little pillars of persimmon: a fruity Zhangjiajie. I take a bite of a little fruit spire and a disgusting chalky taste takes over my mouth. I rue not buying an apple now.
I look up persimmons on Wikipedia.
The persimmon is a berry.
Not so fun fact:
Unripened persimmons contain the soluble tannin shibuol, which, upon contact with a weak acid, polymerizes in the stomach and forms a gluey coagulum, a "foodball" …, that can affix with other stomach matter. These [food-balls] are often very hard and almost woody in consistency. More than 85% of [food-balls] are caused by ingestion of unripened persimmons.
… Coca-Cola has also been successfully used to chemically shrink or eliminate persimmon-related bezoars.
All good. The persimmons I have are unlikely to cause food-balls.
to the stove!
Once diced I need to heat the persimmons. This will soften them up with the goal being to shove them through a sieve to remove the skin and any hard bits.
What a clusterfuck that became.
I heated the little bastards up. But the lack of ripeness meant little juice seeped from the flesh. I was expecting something with the consistency of a stew. I got warm fruit pieces in a pan. I gave them a mush and add a touch of water to get things moving. The persimmon chunks relent and start to give up their juicy secrets.
Contents of one saucepan: persimmon sludge with chunks and skin.
The next step is to sieve the sludge to get rid of the skin and other hard bits. Apparently this is best done with a Foley Food Mill. I couldn't find one in the second draw down. I tried a sieve. It's like trying to force a pudding through hessian cloth. I managed to get about half a cup of juice. I switched to a colander and it performed slightly better.
fifteen minutes later
I'm trying to use a spoon and a potato masher to force persimmon through both the sieve and the colander. You can see me lift up the device and scrape the juicy froth from the other side.
What the fuck am I doing.
I later read that people blend at this point. You'll later read that I broke the sieve with this ridiculousness.
I broke the sieve with this ridiculousness.
I combine my pathetic amount of frothy persimmon juice and the hand mushed pulp and put it back on the stove. It heats up and forms a nice stew consistency. Somehow, I'm bringing this back from the persimmon precipice.
I add the pectin and let it boil. Now it's time for the sugar.
how much sugar!?
One recipe I looked at suggested that I use 3.5 cups of sugar for 8 lb (3.63 kg) of persimmon. Another suggested I use 6 cups for 8 pieces of fruit. Am I making jam or flavoured sugar?
The fruit I had were about 100-150 grams (~3-5 oz) each. This gives me a range of 1/8 to 6/8 of a cup of sugar per piece of fruit.
I call mum
She hasn't made jam for twenty years but said that the sugar ratio was somewhere between 1:4 and 1:1 cups depending on the fruit used. Add a cup, if it's not sweet enough, add more sugar.
Such sensible advice.
Once I add the sugar it takes on a reassuring consistency. This is what I have been looking for. I let that simmer for a bit before applying the second piece of advice my mother gave me.
Have a plate and a spoon in the fridge ready. When you want to test the consistency use the spoon to dab a dollop onto the plate. Put it in the fridge for another minute. What is on your chilled spoon will be the eventual consistency once all is said and done.
I do this and it's jam-like. I don't eat jam that often so I don't know what I like. It's thick and I'm satisfied. In hindsight I would prefer a more fluid jam.
The next act involved doing things I never knew done. Once you have boiled or air-sterilised your jars you fill them with jam. OK, sure, I knew about that bit; stay with me. Next we affix a lid and drop the jars into a vat of boiling water. The wily keep their secrets about how to get jars of jam out of vats of boiling water.
Some people use a jar-grabber. A purpose built device for pulling jam out of a vat of boiling water. This industry is rife with single-purpose contraptions. Just like I don't have a Foley Food Mill, I don't have a jar-grabber. Unlike the sieve incident I came up with a solution that worked.
I found some twine and tied it around the jars, just under the lid. I used the twine to lower and raise the jars from the bath. Success. And there was only one incident where the string came in contact with the burner and a flame moved deliberately along the twine like an ignited fuze in a Wile E. Coyote short.
Jess put that out. Thanks Jess.
So what does eight persimmons and several hours of jamming yield? One and a half jars of delicious, slightly over-firm, persimmon jam.