Don’t worry about the crazy heat and humidity we’re experiencing this month, it’s time to find the snow boots and tune up the snowblower! Persimmon seeds are forecasting above-average snowfall for the Washington, D.C., area.

Persimmons are a sweet fruit that many people mistake for tomatoes in the groceries. They are mostly grown in California for purchase in U.S. food markets, though the most widely cultivated species are native to Asia. However, there is one species — diospyros virginiana — which, if you didn’t guess by the name, is native to the Eastern United States.

According to weather folklore, the pattern inside persimmon seeds can give you a good idea of what the upcoming winter will be like. The folklore says that a spoon pattern inside the seeds indicates there will be lots of snow to shovel, a fork pattern inside the seeds indicates the winter will be mild with good eating, and a knife pattern inside the seeds indicates the winter will be cold with cutting winds.

There was weather-related drama this season with my winter forecasting effort. The tree in Dumfries, Va., that has supplied my persimmons for the past few years is suffering from the lack of rain.  Its persimmons were particularly small and the seeds were not well formed.  I only found three seeds thick enough to slice open, and each seed gave a different result — one spoon, one fork, and one knife.

Thus, I was forced to find a second persimmon tree to obtain more seeds for a tiebreaker.  I found a tree in Leesburg, Va., that was loaded with large persimmons.  I cut open 14 more seeds in two different tests to finalize the results.

Ultimately the spoon pattern prevailed in the tests indicating a snowy winter is in our future.  But the results were close — nine spoons, five knives and three forks — which may indicate a near average winter?  I’ll cheer for the snowy winter outcome, of course.

As with my persimmon seed forecast posts from past years, I found a recipe for the leftover pulp.  This year, I made persimmon muffins.  And for you persimmon fans, this recipe is particularly good. But, as always, make sure you have sweet persimmons and not astringent persimmons.

To test if you have an astringent persimmon, take a small bite from a persimmon after it’s soft and ripe.  If your lips pucker up into a tight knot and all of the moisture in your mouth seems to vanish instantly, you have an astringent persimmon.  Biting into an astringent persimmon is a memorable experience.  It’s not painful, it’s just a very bizarre sensation.

Sweet persimmons, however, taste like a combination of apricots and peaches.  They’re very good to eat raw, straight from the tree.  If you don’t have a sweet persimmon tree, look for fuyu persimmons at your local grocery store.  I found fuyu persimmons at Wegmans in Fairfax. Va.

Persimmon Muffin Recipe

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12 cup muffin pan with foil and/or paper liners.

Step 2: Combine 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 3/4 teaspoon of baking soda, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger, and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a bowl.

Step 3: Whisk three large eggs, a melted stick of butter (8 tablespoons), and 2/3 cup plain yogurt (or sour cream) into the dry ingredients.

Step 4: Liquefy 1 to 1 1/2 cups of persimmon pulp in a blender, food processor, or smoothie machine.  Stir the liquefied persimmons into the mixture.  Don’t include the persimmon skin.

Step 5: Put batter into muffin cups, filling 3/4 full and sprinkle Sugar in the Raw on the top of the cups before baking.

Step 5: Bake for 20 minutes.  Cool briefly in the pan and then transfer to a plate.  They are best served warm but are great at room temperature, too.

If you know of a persimmon tree and want to try slicing open the seeds for your own winter forecast, I found that a good pair of pliers and a sharp pocket knife works well for cutting.  Keep your fingers away from the seed and knife blade, however, because cutting open a persimmon seed takes a little force and the blade occasionally slips out to the side.

Please share your persimmon seed forecasting results, persimmon recipes, or any other weather folklore info you’ve encountered this season.  By the way, did you notice the acorn production this year is super abundant?  Perhaps that’s another sign a cold and snowy winter is in our future.