Hoshigaki

Astringent persimmon were pretty much a mystery to me last year, so I just shrugged as I watched the squirrels pick at the ripening Hachiya persimmon on the tree outside our front window.

A couple of days ago I learned about hoshigaki, a traditional Japanese dried persimmon that involves meticulous selection and careful preparation of fruit, and then more than a month of coddling — quite literally. The drying fruit is massaged every few days to bring the natural sugars to the surface as it dries.

The process came to California with Japanese immigrants — as did the astringent fruit — a century ago and had begun slowly dying out. It’s apparently been revived of late, although the labor intensive production makes hoshigaki no cash cow.

The extraordinary transition from brilliant orange orb to a delicate, frosted sweetmeat takes the persimmon through some seriously ugly territory — which makes it all the more worth pressing through until the end, I suppose.

And so I’m trying my hand at it. I suspect this will be a battle between squirrels and me, rather than me and a venerable tradition. If there’s a “crop” of hoshigaki come Thanksgiving, I’ll post again…

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2 thoughts on “Hoshigaki

  1. would love to hear how they turn out! we used to get these from friends and relatives when i was a kid, and though i wasn’t a big persimmon fan then, i am a huge one now. my parents dry fuyus in their dehydrator and they are delicious…wafer thin and yum. i don’t think they’ve ever tried the traditional drying of hachiyas. i remember them doing something weird with hachiyas when i was little…injecting them with some sort of alcohol and then eating them after some period of time? i should ask them about it.

    • Those dried fuyu sound so good! I read somewhere that adding alcohol to Hachiya speeds up the ripening process. Was that what your parents were doing?

      I would love to hear what you think of the hoshigaki — if they survive the weather and vermin you will get a delivery some time in late November! Today they had become a little soft around the outside and took on a brownish tinge at the edges of each cut of the vegetable peeler. Fingers crossed whatever conditions they need are here right now. (Hoping this little heat wave will help!)

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