The flavor of sweet, ripe persimmon added to the typical lime in margaritas is worth the hunt for this foraged fruit.
Artisanal cocktails have never been more popular, and those carefully crafted beverages have begun to shine a spotlight on their vibrant, specialty ingredients. With The Wildcrafted Cocktail, Ellen Zachos teaches readers how to incorporate common foraged flowers, berries and roots into their own, one-of-a-kind mixed drinks. There are 45 homemade cocktail recipes in this beautiful, full-color book, alongside 50 simple recipes for bitters, syrups, garnishes — anything you might need to make these drinks your own. Bring a natural, delicious twist to your glass!
You may recognize the persimmon as the bright orange fruit that graces high-end grocery stores in autumn. These are Asian persimmons and there’s nothing wrong with them, but the American persimmon is a rarer and more desirable fruit. It’s rare because it isn’t often raised as a commercial crop, although some growers sell the frozen pulp. The very nature of the ripe fruit — soft and mushy — makes picking and shipping American persimmons almost impossible, but the rich sweet flavor, with its caramel overtones, is worth hunting for.
To make one drink:
• Lime juice
• Spicebush sugar rim (recipe below)
• 2 ounces smooth persimmon purée
• 1-1/2 ounces reposado tequila
• 1/2 ounce Cointreau
• 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
• 1 tablespoon simple syrup
• 1 cup ice cubes
• 1 lime wedge, for garnish
1. Rim half of a chilled glass first in lime juice and then the sugar and spicebush blend.
2. Combine the persimmon purée, tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, simple syrup, and ice cubes in a blender. Blend until the texture is thick and smooth. Pour into the rimmed glass and garnish with a wedge of lime.
Persimmons (Diospyros virginiana) grow primarily from the East Coast to the Mississippi, and from North Carolina to New Hampshire. They are most abundant in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Ohio, and Kentucky. You may hear that persimmons require a frost to ripen, but this isn’t true. They have a long growing season and often aren’t ripe until after the first frost. Start looking for them in September.
If you have to pick a persimmon from the tree, it isn’t ready; the fruit will fall off the tree when it’s ripe. An unripe persimmon may be pretty and bright orange, but the flavor is an astringent shock you will not soon forget. The fruit is only delicious when it looks awful and is mushy enough to almost fall apart in your hand.
Persimmons don’t ripen all at once, so you may want to revisit your trees every few days to gather the fruit.
This rim is the perfect garnish for a Frozen Persimmon Margarita. Do not grind the ingredients together in the spice grinder. You want the texture to be granular, not super fine. Grind the spicebush berries in advance, then combine with the sugar and salt. I suggest kosher salt here because it has a larger grain than regular table salt.
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1 teaspoon ground dried spicebush berries
Combine the sugar, salt, and ground spicebush berries in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer to a saucer for rimming a glass.
Excerpted from The Wildcrafted Cocktail, © by Ellen Zachos, photography by ©Keller+Keller Photography, used with permission from Storey Publishing.
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