The same question always arises each fall - what kind of winter lies ahead? Some consult the long-range forecast from a favorite meteorologist or see what one of the almanacs predicts.

The same question always arises each fall - what kind of winter lies ahead? Some consult the long-range forecast from a favorite meteorologist or see what one of the almanacs predicts.
Others may use traditional folklore methods to determine what kind of winter season Southwest Missouri will face.
There are several time tried and true methods. One of these is consulting persimmons.
For those unfamiliar, persimmons are a small, edible fruit native to North America. Other varieties can be found in southeastern Europe and in parts of Asia. The ancient Greeks knew the fruit as well.
Persimmons found in supermarkets today are the Asian or Japanese variety, a much larger, often sweeter type than those found in the Ozarks. Asian persimmons are larger, about the size of a standard tomato while the kind found in the area are the size of a large grape or a cherry tomato.
Those who want to try the age-old method of determining what type of winter lies ahead need a native persimmon, which can be found here in the area.
Divining the winter forecast isn't difficult at all.  To find out if winter will be mild or harsh, cut a persimmon or two or three in half.  If split in two, the inner seed will be revealed.
According to folklore, if the persimmon seed looks like a spoon, a cold, hard, snowy winter lies ahead. A fork means a drier, mild winter.  If a knife is revealed, it means less snow but icy winds that will cut with cold.
In order to determine the natural forecast for the Neosho area, Neosho Daily News staff members gathered some persimmons and put them to the test. In in the center of each of three ripe persimmons, the results were consistent and each revealed a spoon. In traditional folklore, that indicates a cold winter with plenty of snow ahead. Others have found the same results in the area. Whether or not, that proves correct remains to be seen.
Some swear by the persimmon method and others may scoff. The coming months will either confirm or disprove the theory.
Persimmons are edible and can be made into breads, cakes, cookies or muffins. Native Americans made cornbread, gruel, and pudding with persimmons and so did early American pioneers. The puddings they made resembled a traditional English Christmas plum pudding or something close to what Colonials called a 'hasty pudding'.
Some Ozarkers swear that the native fruits are not only edible but delicious if used ripe. Unripe fruit are said to produce a pucker with the sour taste. A variety of persimmon recipes can be found both online and in various cookbooks but most of the recipes found in the modern era are designed with the use of Asian persimmons in mind.
Those who want to experiment cooking with American persimmons may want to be open-minded and adjust sugar or sweetening to taste.
Early settlers in the Ozarks often made persimmon pie and the recipe, adapted for modern cooks, is as follows:

Ingredients:
4 cups persimmon puree
2/3 to 1 cup dark brown sugar (depending on taste)
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
2 eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
Mix together puree, sugar, and spices. Add eggs, one at a time, then heavy cream.
Pour into the pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until just set. Serve with whipped cream if desired.
So, plan for the coming winter and while waiting to see whether or not the persimmon forecast for cold and snow proves true, cooks can bake with a different fruit this autumn season.