Pawpaw flowers. Photo:

Early Fall recipes: Persimmon Cookies and pawpaw pudding

Barb Kipfer

By Barbara Kipfer

Barb is a life-long plant person and nature lover. She is an active Master Naturalist with the Springfield Plateau Chapter and Grow Native! Committee Member. She and her husband, Bob, volunteer with the WOLF school in Springfield. 


For years we’ve been visiting the WOLF school, working with the 5th grade students each week, helping the kids to look more closely at our natural world and its wonders. As summer fades into fall, the pawpaw and persimmons ripen in the Ozarks. These are two recipes I make for the students each fall. We teach topics like seasonal changes, special adaptations to survive, food webs, life cycles and more, depending on the school’s current curriculum. Very few of the students have had the opportunity to smell, hold, and eat those fruits, or learn about their past and present uses for animals – from insects to humans. For example, without pawpaw trees there would be no zebra swallowtails! For fun we look at the persimmon seeds and share the myth about predicting winter weather and question its validity.

Preparing the fruit, especially the persimmons, is a tedious task, even with the help of a food mill. It’s worth it to see how much the kids enjoy it.

For more about growing your own pawpaw and persimmon trees, visit the Grow Native! Native Plant Database.

A basket of American plum by Nadia

Photo: Lincoln University 

Persimmon Cookies

Adapted from Patty Tindall’s recipe from Nuts are optional for allergic and nut adverse individuals.

1 cup persimmons, pureed
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped pecans


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Dissolve baking soda in persimmon pulp and set aside
3. Sift flour, spices and salt together, set aside
4. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, beat in egg and persimmon. Stir in dry ingredients. Stir in nuts and raisins last.
5. Drop by teaspoonsfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake for 15 minutes.
Makes 46 cookies
Leather on dehydrator and plums by Nadia

Persimmon Cookies. Photo: Brooke Widmar

Leather on dehydrator and plums by Nadia

Pawpaw Pudding

By Jeff Gordinier, published in the New York Times Cooking, shared by friend Deb Barnhart.

1/2 cup butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3 large eggs
2 cups pawpaw pulp
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving


1. Heat oven to 350 degrees (F). Grease a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.
3. In another large bowl, whisk together eggs and pawpaw pulp until smooth. Whisk in milk and vanilla. Whisk in melted butter. Pour into sugar micture and store only until combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared dish. Bake 50 minutes or until just set in the center. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack before cutting. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.
Plums and juice in a glass by Nadia

Large pawpaw fruit. Photo: Forrest Keeling

Barbara and MPF’s Grow Native! program recommend purchasing native edible plants from Grow Native! professional members and planting and gathering native edibles from your own personal property. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider if you have concerns about consuming any native edibles. Native edible recipes provided by MPF or MPF’s Grow Native! program are for informational purposes only.
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