Persimmon Wines, Sherries, and/or Meads
There are numerous types of persimmons growing in the United States–both wild and domestic–but the two most common native types are the common persimmon (Diospyros virginiana) and Texas persimmon (Diospyros texana). The first is found from Connecticut and southeastern New York westward to southeastern Iowa, and south from eastern Texas to the Atlantic. The second is found in Texas and the Gulf states of Mexico. Of the various domesticated persimmons, the Oriental Persimmon is the most common.
Persimmon trees grow from 25 to 50 feet high and are distinctly male or female in gender. Their fruit is typically globular and small, from 1 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Domestic persimmons can reach 4 inches or more. They have 4 woody calyx lobes at the base, are quite astringent until ripening around October, and then are very sweet and juicy. They ripen to an orange to orange-purple (the domestics turn almost red) and persist on the trees until absolutely ripe, which may not occur until early winter or after the first freeze. After ripening, the fruit drop or can be shaken from the tree.
Persimmons make a fine, slightly fruity wine, but it will be ruined if any unripened fruit are utilized. The large, red domesticated Oriental persimmons make the best wine with a delicate, amber color, but the wild natives also make a good-tasting, although somewhat unsightly brown wine. Try as I have, I was unable to find a recipe for a persimmon sherry.
- 3 lbs ripe persimmons
- 1-3/4 lbs finely granulated sugar (original recipe called for 2-1/2 lbs sugar1)
- 1 tblsp acid blend
- 1/2 tsp pectic enzyme
- 7 pts water
- 1 crushed Campden tablet
- 1/2 tsp yeast nutrient
- 1 packet Montrachet, Pasteur Red or Champagne yeast
Wash the persimmons, cut into quarters and mash the seeds out with your hands. Mash the pulp well, put into primary, and add half the sugar, the acid blend, yeast nutrient and crushed Campden tablet. Add water to total one gallon. Stir well to dissolve sugar, cover, and set aside. After 12 hours add pectic enzyme and recover. After another 12 hours, add yeast. Ferment 5-7 days, stirring daily. Strain through nylon sieve. Do not be concerned if a lot of fine pulp gets through; it will precipitate out. Add remaining sugar, stir very well, then transfer to secondary while leaving about three inches headroom. Fit air lock and set aside. Rack every 30 days until wine clears and no additional lees are laid down (4-6 months). Stabilize only if you feel the need to sweeten the wine before bottling. This wine should age in the bottle a year. [Adapted recipe from Dorothy Alatorre’s Home Wines of North America ]