For centuries farmers have used nature to predict the length, intensity, and possible struggles of the upcoming seasons. Bushy or flat squirrel tails, curly or straight sheep’s wool, light or dark leaves, cows that are lying or standing in the fields, and of course a groundhog that does or does not see his shadow are all thought to be nature’s way of giving hints about the weather. Now, if you are a city-dweller such as myself you probably do not have the opportunity to drive past a cow pasture to let the sleeping cows tell you that rain is coming, and you could probably not tell if the sheep’s wool is curly or straight just by looking at it. Most of us rely on the good old weather man for our daily forecast. BUT- if you are careful, you might be able to get an idea of what winter holds in store just by cutting open the contents of your Bountiful Basket.
That small, orange, squash-looking thing is in fact a persimmon and it is said that the seeds of the persimmon fruit give pictorial clues into the upcoming winter weather. Persimmon seeds are flattened. In order to use this “weather forecasting method”, carefully remove the seed from the fruit. Split the persimmon seed parallel to the flattened sides. Once split open the seed will reveal a little, whitish sprout- the shape of this sprout is the key to your weather report. The sprout generally forms a “fork”, “knife”, or “spoon”- each indicating a different winter forecast. (Remember it is the forecast for the persimmon’s place of origin not necessarily the location of its final resting place- your dinner table.)
- Knife: If the shape inside the seed is that of a knife, it is believed to mean the winter will be particularly cold and windy. Think of the expression “So cold it’s cutting right through you”- like a knife.
- Spoon: When the shape inside the seed looks like a spoon, it is said to mean winter will bring heavy, wet snowfall. The spoon represents lots of shoveling.
- Fork: The appearance of a fork shape within the seed is believed to mean that winter will be mild with only a light dusting of snow.
Persimmons are a small round tree-fruit generally available in the late fall. They are a soft, fleshy fruit with a tart, sometimes bitter taste. There are two main varieties of persimmons available in the US. The pointy-bottomed Hachiya should not be eaten until they are very ripe. Even then, this variety is best for baked goods and jams. Fuyus are short and squat and are said to be a better choice for eating raw. They have a slightly firm flesh that has a spicy-sweet taste. So, once you’ve gotten your weather report use this exotic fruit to cook up some delightful dishes.
Whatever the seeds show, I predict you will have lots of fun baking and eating these sweet little weather forecasters.