[Sca-cooks] persimmons

Johnna Holloway johnnae at mac.com
Wed Sep 8 12:14:41 PDT 2010

There are of course two types and that might weigh in on the  
discussion too.

The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America notes
Diospyros virginiana, native to the American states south of a line  
from Connecticut to Kansas.
(We used to harvest them in rural Illinois and we still have family  
recipes for them. They still gather, can, and sell the pulp in parts  
of Indiana.)


D. kaki, indigenous to China which has supplanted commercially the  
native fruit found previously in the American wild.

"There is the tomato-shaped Fuyu (the common name for several similar  
varieties), eaten crunchy-hard like an apple, and the acorn-shaped  
Hachiya, which like the native American species is edible only when  
soft and gelatinous. Both turn bright red-orange when ripe and are  
honey-sweet, with mild pumpkinyflavor. The season runs from late  
September through December . Fuyus are chiefly consumed as fresh  
fruits; Hachiyas can be eaten fresh, with a spoon, but are mostly used  
in puddings, ice creams, breads, and cookies.

The cultivation of Asian persimmons, chiefly in central and southern  
California, began with the importation of grafted trees from Japan in  
the 1870s..."

The question would be if you are using persimmons in an SCA cookery  
contest, are you using the Asian variety and a period Asian recipe or  
are you attempting to sub in the Asian fruits for what was a native  
American fruit found on the East coast by original colonists? Does the  
entrant even know the difference?
A related problem would be what the entrant was calling the fruit.
Searching for them in 17th century texts proves to be problematic  
because they weren't called persimmons. That comes from Algonquian and  
OED explains it as
"<Virginia Algonquian pichamins, pushemins (with the plural ending -ar  
(with voiceless consonant) written as English -s); compare Unami  
Delaware xí·mi·n (< *pxí·mi·n) < a more southerly Eastern Algonquian  

As Mistress Huette mentioned John Smith did encounter and write about  
them. His is one of the early OED quotations in English.

1612 J. SMITH Map of Virginia 12 The fruit like medlers; they call  
Putchamins, they cast vppon hurdles on a mat, and preserue them as  

   c1612 W. STRACHEY Hist. Trav. Virginia (1953) I. x. 120 They haue a  
Plomb which they call Pessemmins like to a Meddeler in England, but of  
a deepe tawny cullour.

   1629 J. PARKINSON Paradisi in Sole III. x. 570 The third [Lotus] is  
called in Virginia Pishamin. The Virginia Plumme.

1626 in Amer. Speech 15 294/2 Extending Southerly..towards the  
pursimond ponds.

and finally here where the spelling is more recognizable--

   1635 Relation of Maryland 18 Also there are divers sorts of Fruit- 
trees, as Mulberries, Persimmons, with severall other kinds of Plums.

I'll play aound with these quotations from OED, especially this one -

"1629 J. PARKINSON Paradisi in Sole III. xiii. 578 The *Pishamin or  
Virginia plum is called a plum, but vtterly differeth from all sorts  
of plums"

and see what else I can find in terms of actual early recipes.


On Sep 8, 2010, at 2:33 PM, CHARLES POTTER wrote:

> There are several species that are period and some that are New  
> World, I don't think there are very many period recipes for there use
> other than eating them fresh.
>                                    Master B

More information about the Sca-cooks mailing list