[NAFEX] hoshigaki - Japanese dried persimmons
markl at nytec.com
Wed Nov 24 15:34:57 EST 2004
Here is a way to preserve persimmons that is traditional in Japan:
The name of this form of persimmon is "hoshigaki". This is quoted from
"The acorn-shaped Hachiya is the persimmon variety which is normally
dried. The astringency of the fruit is caused by the tannin content.
While the fruit dries over a period of four to six weeks, it becomes
sweet and a layer of sugar crystallizes on the skin.
When persimmons are picked, the fruits are still hard and orange in
color. The first step in the drying process is to peel the skin. Some
growers choose to cut off the shoulder of the fruit so that it is more
even. Also, it is important to leave some skin around the stem. Each
persimmon is tied to the end of a string, with two persimmons per
string. They are then hung over a pole. It is important that the string
is sufficiently long so that when the persimmons are hung, they do not
touch each other.
After four to seven days of hanging on the poles, the persimmons are
massaged by hand for the first time. This is a critical stage in the
drying process because some persimmons may not be ready to be massaged,
while others will have already developed a hard outer skin, facilitating
massage. The massaging helps reduce wrinkles, facilitates evaporation,
circulates the contents, and breaks down fibers. Massaging also
prohibits mold from growing in the wrinkles of the drying fruit.
Although the persimmons may be left outside to dry on racks, rainy or
moist weather will disrupt the drying process. In order to avoid morning
dew, persimmons may be brought inside or covered at night. Too much sun
may burn the persimmons, so overcast weather is preferred. If the
weather outdoors gets too cold, many growers will hang the persimmons
inside and use heaters or fans to maintain optimal conditions.
After the first massage, the fruit dry for another period of four to
seven days. Massaging may continue on a regular basis, although many
growers insist on massaging at least once a day in order to ensure the
best quality. After a period of four weeks, the persimmons should be
ready to package, freeze, or store. However, the producer should still
be careful because if the hoshigaki are not ready, they could develop
mold while in the boxes."
-Mark Lee, Seattle
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