Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Black Texas Persimmon Mead

So, people in other parts of the country outside of South Texas will not even know what I'm talking about. Persimmons are a fairly common fruit across Asia, and even parts of America. Native American Persimmons exist, and some of them are quite good and custardy. Most native persimmons are still visibly recognizable to the persimmons of Asia, just smaller and a little more astringent unless fully, rotten ripe. They are still sort of an orange color and taste like a dreamsicle. Really good, if you can find them. Watch your farmer's market at the end of summer. Good luck!

Chapote, the Spanish name for them, is also a persimmon. It is pitch black. It is blacker than black. It is fuligin black. If Gene Wolfe was designing the dye to the famous cloak, it would be dyed with black Texas persimmon dye.

Also, they taste like sweet, sweet pudding crossed with prunes and smoke. They taste so sugary that they're a huge surprise in the mouth. They look all dark and evil, but once you wash them and pop them in your mouth, the candy explosion explodes and stains your teeth. Locals love them. Deer and pigs love them the most and ravage the trees, spreading seeds through their scat.

My wife went foraging and came home with prickly pear tunas, lots of them, but she also stumbled across some fantastic Texas persimmon trees and brought home a hatful of ripe, gooey, pitch black, delicious fruit.

Foragers love them. They are tree candy.

Let's make an experimental batch of mead and see what happens!

"Chapote Mead"
1 gallon

1 gallon of Texas spring water
3.5 pounds of local Texas wildflower honey
Lalvin White Wine Yeast ICV-D47

Clean and sanitize everything.

Step 1:
manually dig through the fruit to seaparate the many seeds from the pulpy black flesh. It is extremely messy. You will miss some. Wash your hands. Be careful because this stuff will stain!

Step 2:
Add 1/2 gallon of water to the pulp, and raise the temperature to 170 degrees to try and sanitize. Hold there without boiling for fifteen minutes.

Step 3:
Turn off the heat and add the honey, stirring it all in.

Step 4:
While stirring, skim off the scum and floating debris, and raise temperature again to sanitize. Let everything drain and dump the liquid from below the strainer back into the vessel.

Step 5:
Get everything into your fermentation vessel and top up with spring water to fill the vessel to one gallon.

Step 6:
Once it's cooled to blood temperature, pitch the yeast, cover and wait.

I have pectic enzyme and citric acid available, but for the first experimental batch, I want to see what it does on its own with minimal input. If I find it would benefit later, I may start tinkering. For now, though, my elaborate airlock system will be fine, and the darkest part of the counter will let me watch for early fermentation signs before I move it all somewhere even darker.

It is a thick, black, evil looking thing. It wouldn't be out of place at the black dinner parties in revolutionary France.