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Fall for Persimmons

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Fall for Persimmons
Fall for Bill Smith's Persimmons this Holiday Season. Photos by Anna Routh

For a Chapel Hill chef,
the Proof is in the Pudding

It usually starts in August, though that is far too early in the year. Nonetheless, people begin stopping me, in the grocery store for instance, to ask if it isn’t about time for persimmon pudding. It’s a town favorite. And I always say that it is my favorite recipe of all those that I inherited when I took over at Crook’s Corner in Chapel Hill in 1993. It differs from most persimmon pudding recipes because of the buttermilk. That shows that the recipe clearly came from somebody’s grandmamma. We have it on our menu every fall, but because we use wild persimmons, the amount and duration vary from year to year. My main source is Mrs. Mary Andrews, now aged ninety, who lives out in Orange County. I’ve been buying produce from her for at least thirty years. They fall from the tree at night and when ripe they are very sticky, so each evening she puts a sheet on the ground under the trees to catch them. We also have to compete with the deer and possums. And the chickens—they love them and get them all over their feathers. “You can’t really wash a chicken,” Mrs. Andrews once told me. So I try to get as many as I can—both to meet pudding demand and to help keep her chickens clean.

Fish Baked in Paper
with Persimmon Butter

Persimmons from Bill Smith
from Chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Persimmon Pudding

Persimmon Pudding from Bill Smith4
from Chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Persimmon Pound Cake

Persimmons from Bill Smith2
from Chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Persimmon-Buttermilk Sherbet

Persimmons from Bill Smith3
from Chef Bill Smith of Crook's Corner, Chapel Hill, North Carolina