This section is from the book "The Steward's Handbook And Guide To Party Catering", by Jessup Whitehead. Also available from Amazon: Larousse Gastronomique.
A wild fruit of the Middle and Southern Slates; good but neglected; grows on trees of small dimensions. It has the shape and appearance of a small tomato, the color, however, is yellow when nearly mature and reddish brown when fully ripe; this state is not reached until after a siig"--. frost. It is then a mass of very sweet pulp containing several brown seeds, the taste is musky, like the banana. While it is of but little value as fresh fruit it will make a pleasant sparkling wine. It is made into Persimmon Beer in Virginia in this way: A barrel with pine branches in the bottom, or straw if pine is not to be had, and a faucet, is half filled with ripe persimmons; a panful of the fruit mixed with bran or meal is baked until partly browned and added to the fruit in the barrel to heighten the flavor; the barrel is then filled up with water and allowed to ferment like cider. In a few days it is drawn off into another barrel and bunged tight or bottled, and the first barrel refilled with water eventually makes vinegar.
Good domestic wine can be made without the baked fruit, and without sugar, a little yeast spread upon toast assisting the fermentation.