PERSIMMONS

Diospyros kaki Linn
Ebenaceae
Common Names: Persimmon, Oriental Persimmon, Japanese Persimmon, Kaki.
Related species: Black Sapote (Diospyros digyna), Mabolo, Velvet Apple (D. discolor), Date Plum (D. lotus), Texas Persimmon (D. texana), American Persimmon (D. virginiana).

Origin: The oriental persimmon is native to China, where it has been cultivated for centuries and more than two thousand different cultivars exist. It spread to Korea and Japan many years ago where additional cultivars were developed. The plant was introduced to California in the mid 1800's.

General Production Information
The total value of California’s persimmon crop in 1998 was $12,614,300. In 1998, 11,439 tons were produced on 2,165 acres (1).
Tulare County leads California persimmon production with 4,830 tons harvested from 715 acres in 1998. The average yield per acre was 6.76 tons priced at $1,150 per ton (1).
China leads in the worldwide production of persimmons, producing around 57% of the crop. Japan is second, producing 27% of the crop (6).
California makes up 99% of national market (6).


Production Regions

The central San Joaquin Valley of California is the major production area with Tulare and Fresno Counties producing 53% of the state’s total production. Other production areas are located in southern California around San Diego, Riverside, and Orange counties. A small percentage of the total acreage is grown in the northern counties of Sutter and Placer counties.

Persimmons grow best in regions with moderate winters and relatively mild summers. When fully dormant the persimmon tree can tolerate temperatures of 0ºF. However, since the tree has a low chilling requirement, it may break dormancy early and be damaged by spring frosts. Persimmons do not produce well in the high summer heat of desert regions (2). In California the leading production counties are Tulare, San Diego and Fresno (1).



Production Practices

The persimmon is also known as the Oriental persimmon, Japanese persimmon, or kaki. It is native to China and was introduced to California in the mid-1800’s. The persimmon tree is either male or female, but some trees have both male and female flowers. Many cultivars set seedless fruit without pollination, but some climates require pollination for adequate production (2). Cross-pollination can be a problem when ‘Hachiya’ and ‘Fuyu’ persimmon are planted within one-half mile of each other. Hard black seeds will develop in the ‘Fuyu’ fruit making it non-marketable.

Adaptation: Persimmons do best in areas that have moderate winters and relatively mild summers--suitable for growing in USDA Hardiness Zones 7 to 10. It can tolerate temperatures of 0° F when fully dormant. However, because of its low chilling requirement (less than 100 hours), it may break dormancy during early warm spells only to be damaged by spring frosts later. The leaves are killed by 26° F when growing. Trees do not produce well in the high summer heat of desert regions, which may also sunburn the bark.

 

PERSIMMON , common name for trees of a genus of the ebony family. The common persimmon is native to the eastern United States, growing wild from Connecticut and Iowa south to Florida and Texas; it grows up to 15 m (up to 50 ft) and has oblong leaves and unisexual flowers. The edible fruit is a large berry about the size of an apricot, with a tomatolike skin.

The persimmon tree yields a heavy, hard, close-grained wood that is used for shuttles and bobbins in the textile industry and for golf-club heads and other sports equipment. The Japanese persimmon is cultivated in the warm sections of the United States, particularly in California, for its fruit.

Persimmons can be classified into two general categories: those that bear astringent fruit until they are soft ripe and those that bear nonastringent fruits. Within each of these categories, there are cultivars whose fruits are influenced by pollination (pollination variant) and cultivars whose fruits are unaffected by pollination (pollination constant). Actually, it is the seeds, not pollination per se, that influences the fruit. An astringent cultivar must be jelly soft before it is fit to eat, and such cultivars are best adapted to cooler regions where persimmons can be grown. The flesh color of pollination-constant astringent cultivars is not influenced by pollination. Pollination-variant astringent cultivars have dark flesh around the seeds when pollinated.

A nonastringent persimmon can be eaten when it is crisp as an apple. These cultivars need hot summers, and the fruit might retain some astringency when grown in cooler regions. Pollination-constant nonastringent (PCNA) persimmons are always edible when still firm; pollination-variant nonastringent (PVNA) fruit are edible when firm only if they have been pollinated.

The shape of the fruit varies by cultivar from spherical to acorn to flattened or squarish. The color of the fruit varies from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red. The size can be as little as a few ounces to more than a pound. The entire fruit is edible except for the seed and calyx. Alternate bearing is common. This can be partially overcome by thinning the fruit or moderately pruning after a light-crop year. Astringency can also be removed by treating with carbon dioxide or alcohol. Freezing the fruit overnight and then thawing softens the fruit and also removes the astringency. Unharvested fruit remaining on the tree after leaf fall creates a very decorative effect. It is common for many immature fruit to drop from May to September


DESCRIPTION
Growth Habit: The persimmon is a multitrunked or single-stemmed deciduous tree to 25 ft. high and at least as wide. It is a handsome ornamental with drooping leaves and branches that give it a languid, rather tropical appearance. The branches are somewhat brittle and can be damaged in high winds.
Foliage: Persimmon leaves are alternate, simple, ovate and up to 7 inches long and 4 inches wide. They are often pale, slightly yellowish green in youth, turning a dark, glossy green as they age. Under mild autumn conditions the leaves often turn dramatic shades of yellow, orange and red. Tea can also be made from fresh or dried leaves.

Flowers: The inconspicuous flowers surrounded by a green calyx tube are borne in the leaf axils of new growth from one-year old wood. Female flowers are single and cream-colored while the pink-tinged male flowers are typically borne in threes. Commonly, 1 to 5 flowers per twig emerge as the new growth extends (typically March). Persimmon trees are usually either male or female, but some trees have both male and female flowers. On male plants, especially, occasional perfect (bisexual) flowers occur, producing an atypical fruit. A tree's sexual expression can vary from one year to the other. Many cultivars are parthenocarpic (setting seedless fruit without pollination), although some climates require pollination for adequate production. When plants not needing pollination are pollinated, they will produce fruits with seeds and may be larger and have a different flavor and texture than do their seedless counterparts.

Fruit: Persimmons can be classified into two general categories: those that bear astringent fruit until they are soft ripe and those that bear nonastringent fruits. Within each of these categories, there are cultivars whose fruits are influenced by pollination (pollination variant) and cultivars whose fruits are unaffected by pollination (pollination constant). Actually, it is the seeds, not pollination per se, that influences the fruit. An astringent cultivar must be jelly soft before it is fit to eat, and such cultivars are best adapted to cooler regions where persimmons can be grown. The flesh color of pollination-constant astringent cultivars is not influenced by pollination. Pollination-variant astringent cultivars have dark flesh around the seeds when pollinated. A nonastringent persimmon can be eaten when it is crisp as an apple. These cultivars need hot summers, and the fruit might retain some astringency when grown in cooler regions. Pollination-constant nonastringent (PCNA) persimmons are always edible when still firm; pollination-variant nonastringent (PVNA) fruit are edible when firm only if they have been pollinated.

The shape of the fruit varies by cultivar from spherical to acorn to flattened or squarish. The color of the fruit varies from light yellow-orange to dark orange-red. The size can be as little as a few ounces to more than a pound. The entire fruit is edible except for the seed and calyx. Alternate bearing is common. This can be partially overcome by thinning the fruit or moderately pruning after a light-crop year. Astringency can also be removed by treating with carbon dioxide or alcohol. Freezing the fruit overnight and then thawing softens the fruit and also removes the astringency. Unharvested fruit remaining on the tree after leaf fall creates a very decorative effect. It is common for many immature fruit to drop from May to September

CULTURE
Location: Full sun with some air movement is recommended for persimmon trees in inland areas, although they will tolerate some partial shade. Persimmons grown in cooler areas should have full sun with protection from cooling breezes. As an attractive ornamental the tree fits well in the landscape. It does not compete well with eucalyptus.
Soil: Persimmons can withstand a wide rage of conditions as long as the soil is not overly salty, but does best in deep, well drained loam. A pH range of 6.5 to 7.5 is preferred. The tree has a strong tap root which may mean digging a deeper hole than usual when planting (when on D. kaki stock).

Irrigation: Persimmon trees will withstand short periods of drought, but the fruit will be larger and of higher quality with regular watering. Extreme drought will cause the leaves and fruit to drop prematurely. Any fruit left on the tree will probably sunburn. Some 36 to 48 inches of water are needed annually, applied gradually in spring and tapering off in the fall. Hot inland areas may require 2 or 3 applications weekly, while coastal areas may need watering only once every 6 weeks, depending on the soil. If a drip system is is used, the emitters should be moved away from the trunk as the tree matures.

Fertilization: Most trees do well with a minimum of fertilizing. Excess nitrogen can cause fruit drop. If mature leaves are not deep green and shoot growth is less than a foot per year, apply a balanced fertilizer such as a 10-10-10 at a rate of l pound per inch of trunk diameter at ground level. Spread the fertilizer evenly under the canopy in late winter or early spring.

Pruning: Prune persimmon trees to develop a strong framework of main branches while the tree is young. Otherwise the fruit, which is borne at the tips of the branches, may be too heavy and cause breakage. A regular program of removal of some new growth and heading others each year will improve structure and reduce alternate bearing. An open vase system is probably best. Even though the trees grow well on their own, persimmons can be pruned heavily as a hedge, as a screen, or to control size. They even make a nice espalier. Cut young trees back to 1/2 high (or about 3 feet) at the time of planting.

Propagation: Stratification is recommended for all persimmon seeds. The common rootstock in California is D. lotus, although it is not compatible with some cultivars, including fuyu. Other rootstock such as D. kaki seedlings are temperamental and have long tap roots. D. virginiana is inconsistent and suckers badly. Whip and cleft grafts are the ones commonly used. The trunks of young trees should be protected from sunburn and rodent damage.

Pests and Diseases: Persimmons are relatively problem-free, although mealybug and scale in association with ants can sometimes cause problems. Ant control will usually take care of these pests. Other occasional pests include white flies, thrips which can cause skin blemishes and a mite that is blamed for the "brown lace collar" near the calyx. Waterlogging can also cause root rot. Vertebrate pests such as squirrels, deer, coyotes, rats, opossums and birds are fond of the fruit and gophers will attack the roots. Other problems include blossom and young fruit shedding, especially on young trees. This is not usually a serious problem, but if the drop is excessive, it may be useful to try girdling a few branches. Over watering or over fertilization may also be responsible. Large quantities of small fruit on an otherwise healthy tree can be remedied by removing all but one or two fruit per twig in May or June.

Harvest: Harvest astringent varieties when they are hard but fully colored. They will soften on the tree and improve in quality, but you will probably lose many fruit to the birds. Astringent persimmons will ripen off the tree if stored at room temperature. Nonastringent persimmons are ready to harvest when they are fully colored, but for best flavor, allow them to soften slightly after harvest. Both kinds of persimmons should be cut from the tree with hand-held pruning shears, leaving the calyx intact Unless the fruit is to be used for drying whole, the stems should be cut as close to the fruit as possible. Even though the fruit is relatively hard when harvested, it will bruise easily, so handle with care.

Mature, hard astringent persimmons can be stored in the refrigerator for at least a month. They can also be frozen for 6 to 8 months. Nonastringent persimmons can be stored for a short period at room temperature. They will soften if kept with other fruit in the refrigerator. Persimmons also make an excellent dried fruit. They can either be peeled and dried whole or cut into slices (peeled or unpeeled) and dried that way. When firm astringent persimmons are peeled and dried whole they lose all their astringency and develop a sweet, datelike consistency.

Commercial Potential: Persimmons are found in most supermarkets during the season, but there is not a large demand outside ethnic markets. It would appear that there is a potential as a major crop if and when the market is developed.

CULTIVARS
There has been a great deal of confusion and misidentification among persimmon cultivars. The following list is subject to revision as better analysis techniques become available.
Astringent Varieties
Eureka
Medium to large oblate fruit, puckered at the calyx. Skin bright orange-red. Good quality. Ripens late. Tree small, vigorous,drought and frost resistant, precocious and heavy-bearing. One of the most satisfactory cultivars for Florida and Texas
Hachiya
Large, oblong-conical fruit Skin glossy, deep orange. Flesh dark yellow. Sweet and rich. Good for drying. Ripens midseason to late. Tree vigorous, upright-spreading. Prolific in California.
Honan Red
Small, roundish oblate fruit with thin skin. Skin and flesh ripen to a distinct orange-red. Very sweet and rich. Excellent for fresh eating and drying. Ripens midseason to late. Tall, upright, moderately vigorous tree. Bears good crop.
Saijo
Small, elongated fruit. Skin dull-yellow when mature. Flavor sweet, excellent, ranked among the best by gourmets. Mature fruits are attractive when dried. Tree medium in height, bears consistently. Cold hardy to -10° F.
Tamopan
Large, somewhat four-sided fruit, broad-oblate and indented around the middle. Skin thick, orange-red. Flesh light orange, sweet and rich when fully ripe. Ripens midseason in California
Tanenashi
Medium-sized round-conical fruits. Skin light yellow or orange, turning orange-red, thick. Flesh yellow, sweet. Ripens early. Tree vigorous, rounded, prolific. In California tends to bear in alternate years.
Triumph
Sold as Sharon Fruit after astringency has been chemically removed. Medium-sized, oblate fruits. Ripens in October.
Nonastringent Varieties
Fuyu (Fuyugaki)
Medium-large oblate fruit, faintly four-sided. Skin deep orange. Flesh light orange, sweet and mild. Ripens late. Keeps well and is an excellent packer and shipper. Tree vigorous, spreading, productive. Most popular nonastringent cultivar in Japan.
Gosho/Giant Fuyu/O'Gosho
Large, roundish-oblate fruit. Skin reddish orange, attractive. When fully ripe has one of the deepest red colors of any persimmon. Flesh quality good, sweeter than Fuyu. Ripens in late October. Tree somewhat dwarf. Bears regularly but sets a light crop in some seasons and is prone to premature shedding of fruit.
Imoto
Similar to Jiro. Reddish brown skin. Occasional male flowers and seeds. Probably a bud mutation of Jiro. Ripens late October and early November
Izu
Medium-sized fruit. Skin burnt orange. Flesh soft, with a good amount of syrup, of fine texture. Flavor very good. Not reliably nonastringent. Ripens early, from the end of September to mid-October. Tree somewhat dwarf. Bears only female flowers. Sets good crop.
Jiro
Fruit large. Resembles Fuyu, but more truncated and squarish in cross-section. Skin orange-red. Flavor and quality excellent. Ripens late October and early November, ships well. Often sold as Fuyu. Tree slightly upright. Most popular nonastringent variety in California.
Maekawajiro
Medium-sized, rounded fruit, smoother and less indented than Jiro. Rich orange in color. Sweet and of good quality. Ripens in mid-season. Tree slightly upright. Must be planted with a suitable pollinator to ensure good fruit yield. Bud mutation of Jiro.
Okugosho
Medium-sized, round fruit. Skin orange to deep red. Flesh sweet, of good texture, flavor good. Not reliably nonastringent. Ripens in early November. Tree medium-sized, vigorous, spreading. Differentiates male flowers, making it a suitable pollinator.
Suruga
Large fruit. Skin orange-red. Flesh dense, very sweet, excellent quality. Difficult to soften on tree (fruit becomes spongy rather than soft). Ripens in November, keeps well Tree almost free from alternate bearing. Recommended for warmer climates.
Pollination Variant Varieties (astringent when seedless)
Chocolate
Small to medium-sized, oblong-conical fruit. Skin reddish orange. Flesh brown-streaked when pollinated, must be soft-ripe before eating. Ripens late October to early November. Tree large, vigorous, producing many male blossoms. Recommended as a pollinator for pollination variant cultivars such as Hyakuma and Zenji Maru.
Gailey
Fruit small, roundish to conical with a rounded apex. Skin dull red, pebbled. Flesh dark, firm, juicy, of fair flavor. Tree small to medium. Bears many male flowers regularly and is an excellent cultivar to plant for cross-pollination. Has attractive autumn foliage and ornamental value.
Hyakume
Fruit large, roundish oblong to roundish oblate. Skin buff-yellow to light orange, marked with rings and veins near the apex. Flesh dark cinnamon when seeded, juicy, of firm texture, nonmelting. Flavor spicy, very good. Nonastringent even while the fruit is still hard. Ripens in midseason, stores and ships well.
Maru
Small to medium-sized fruit, rounded at the apex. Skin brilliant orange-red, attractive. Flesh dark cinnamon, juicy, sweet and rich, quality excellent. Stores and ships especially well. Tree vigorous and productive. Generally considered a group name.
Nishimura Wase
Fruit medium, round conical to oblate. Orange color. Mediocre flavor. Ripens in September. Bears male flowers.


Rieger acquired the property as an investment with a former girlfriend. Having never farmed a day in his life, he had no intention of tilling the earth. All that changed as the orchard worked its magic on him.

"It was like a perfect Japanese garden," he recalled several weeks ago from his stall at the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers' Market. "When I first walked out into the orchard, I literally needed a map to tell which tree was which. The first year I didn't take a single day off. Then Joanne called us into this meeting and tried to get us interested in hoshigaki. All I'd heard was how time-consuming it was. I thought to myself, 'There's no way I'm going to do this.' "

Several months later, Rieger stopped by Otow Orchard to see his friend Kuratomi, who was peeling some persimmons for hoshigaki. Rieger asked how to do it. One thing led to another, and Rieger now is one of the art's tireless champions.

Last year he dried 300 persimmons; this year Rieger hopes to turn a ton and a half of the fruit into hoshigaki. Kuratomi, the elder statesman, hopes to have about 1,500 pounds of hoshigaki ready to ship by late November to mid-December and retail the dried fruit for up to $15 per pound. Although Rieger's product can be bought at the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, the three major growers in Placer County—Rieger's Penryn Orchard Specialties, Otow Orchard and Brenner Ranch—can be contacted directly and will ship nationwide.

Earlier this month, Rieger and Kuratomi were picking, peeling and hanging persimmons as fast as they could. They and their helpers planned to spend nearly every waking minute carefully massaging the fruit to perfection while it dried.

"It's incredibly labor-intensive," says Rieger. He then stops himself and laughs. "I take that back. It's outrageously labor-intensive."

*

Hoshigaki Cannoli

Serves 6
 

The article "Massaging the Persimmon" (Style, Oct. 30) misspelled the surname of Jeff Rieger, of Rieger's Penryn Orchard Specialties, as Reiger. In addition, the recipe for hoshigaki cannoli should have noted that it was adapted from Laurence Hauben.

How do I eat this thing? Captivating Consumers with Effective Sampling, Storage Information and Recipes

Jefrey H. Rieger, Penryn Orchard Specialties
Laurence Hauben, Santa Barbara Slow Food Convivium
Frieda Caplan, Frieda’s Inc

Massaging the Persimmon
You needn't be insane to practice the ancient Japanese art of hoshigaki--just reasonably obsessive

Kent Black


Two years ago, Joanne Neft, director of Placer County's Agriculture Marketing Program, was admiring groves of persimmon trees flanking a road in Newcastle when she was struck by the extraordinary amount of fruit being eaten by birds or rotting on the ground.


She knew immediately why so much food was going to waste. "We have the fastest-growing county in California," she says, citing the steady march of development north from Sacramento and Roseville. "Many of the farmers here are retiring or dying . . . so a lot of the orchards are left untended."

Neft knew that the county's agricultural decline meant that someday she might not be able to get one of her favorite delicacies: hoshigaki, or dried persimmons. "I have a friend, Martha Miyamura, who once owned a farm with her late husband, Kay. Every December they would make me a gift of hoshigaki, which they usually gave away as gifts or sold to the Asian markets. It's pure ambrosia . . . a sweet, concentrated taste of persimmon."

She decided that she would revive the art of hoshigaki in Placer County. Though it seems odd to apply "art" to a process of drying fruit, the technique is reported to be hundreds of years old. "Red Persimmons," a 2001 film by the late Shinsuke Ogawa and Peng Xiaolian, documented the process practiced by farmers in the tiny Japanese village of Kaminoyama. Carefully peeling the Hachiya variety of persimmon before they ripened, the hoshigaki artisans would leave the stems on and tie them with a string so they could be hung up for drying. After the exposed skin dried a few days later, the villagers would then gently massage the fruit to break down the pulp and membranes inside.

Every few days for about a month, the process would be repeated with thousands of persimmons until they dried and a fine coating of fructose came to the surface, as if the fruit had been dipped in powdered sugar. In a 2004 report, UC Davis graduate students wrote that hoshigaki is different from other dried fruit "because the drying process is deeply influenced by Japanese values of hard work, perfection and dedication."

Hoshigaki arrived in Placer County with Japanese immigrants at the turn of the last century. Tosh Kuratomi and his wife, Chris, run Otow Orchard, a diverse 39 1/2 -acre farm in Granite Bay that was started by her grandparents in about 1909. He believes that the county's claim as the "Fruit Shipping Capital of the World" during the first two decades of the 20th century was partly due to the dedication of the Japanese immigrants. According to Neft, Placer County shipped 152 million pounds of fruit in 1923.

And then came World War II and internment. Although some Japanese American farmers returned to their land after the war, production levels were eclipsed by other counties in the Central Valley. And many of the children and grandchildren of these farmers chose other professions. Only a few families, such as Kuratomi's, carried on the hoshigaki tradition commercially.

In spring 2004, Neft called a lunch meeting of persimmon growers. She wanted to convince them that not only could they preserve a dying art, but an additional market could be created for their fruit. Jeff Rieger was one of those present. Only a year and a half earlier, the 48-year-old builder from North Lake Tahoe had acquired a 4 1/2 -acre orchard from an 82-year-old Japanese American farmer.


Saving Cherished Slow Foods, One Product at a Time

Japanese Massaged Dried Persimmon
HOSHI GAKI

Hoshi gaki are persimmons that are peeled and dried whole over a period of several weeks through a combination of hanging and delicate hand-massaging, until the sugars contained in the fruit form a delicate "bloom," a surface dusting that looks like frost. Unlike sliced dried fruit, which tend to be brittle and leathery, hoshi gaki are succulently tender and moist, with concentrated persimmon flavor. The hoshi gaki method is traditional to Japan, and came to America with Japanese American farmers. Because they are so labor-intensive, hoshi gaki all but disappeared from commercial production.

Thanks in great part to the efforts of Joanne Neft, Placer County Agricultural Marketing Director, there is now an interest in reviving the hoshi gaki process. We know of a few producers in Placer County, California where hoshi gaki can be found at farmers markets from November through the Holiday season. The product remains scarce and hard to find beyond the area of immediate production, but one Placer County farmer, Jeff Rieger, is scheduled to begin selling hoshi gaki at the Santa Monica Farmers Market this fall. Hoshi gaki can also be ordered from the producers listed below.

Former producer:
Martha Miyamura
PO Box 346
Penryn, CA 95663

Current Producers:
Tosh Kuratomi
Otow Orchard
Granite Bay, CA
916/791-1656
(Will ship long distance)

Jeffrey Rieger
Penryn Orchard Specialties
Penryn, CA
916-769-5462
[email protected]
(Will ship long distance)

Jim and Karen Brenner
Brenner Ranch
Newcastle, CA
916-663-4578
(Will ship long distance)


HOSHI GAKI DIRECTIONS
Contributed by Jeffrey H. Rieger, Placer County farmer who grows hachiyas and rare persimmons on his 4 acre farm near Auburn, in the Sierra foothill.

To be eaten fresh, the Hachiya persimmon must be completely soft, otherwise it is unbearably astringent. For drying, however, the fruits are perfect when the shoulders just lose their green, but are still firm like apples, generally from the end of September to the middle of October. The riper they are, the more delicately they must be handled. Making hoshi gaki requires patience, careful monitoring, and a fair amount of dexterity. However, if you follow the method closely, you will achieve a rewarding product that is succulent, very handsome, and makes wonderful Holiday gifts.

Start with a 20 lbs box of medium sized hachiyas with the stems intact, and store them calyx down. (If you pick your own fruit, pull upward against the branch to retain the stem.) Handle the fruit very gently, as any bruise will create a soft spot that will make peeling difficult and may create a leak during the drying process. Larger persimmons can be dried too and yields a superior product, but require more massaging, so medium fruit is best for beginners.

1. Peeling: Sitting in a comfortable chair with a bucket or newspaper between your legs, prop your arms on your knees, and with a sharp paring knife, cut the shoulders off the fruit so they are even with the flat disk of the calyx, with one circular motion. Remove the loose part of the calyx, leaving the stem and a ring of calyx the size of a quarter. Next, ease the angle between the flattened calyx end and the sides of the fruit by rotating the knife around the fruit at a 45 degree angle. If you leave the shoulders on, the fruit will dry as if it were shrugging. Be careful not to remove the shoulder too deeply, as the fruit will tear at this point later on if you do. The rest of the peeling is best done with a peeler whose blade is set perpendicular to the handle. Holding the fruit calyx up in one hand, draw the blade down the side to the point. Only go over the point once, as the membrane under the skin is thinnest here, and the fruit will leak out later if you take off too much. Rotate the fruit so you are holding the skin side, not the newly peeled side, and take another peel. Continue until all the peel is gone and place in the "pana pack," calyx up. The most important step is even peeling, with the minimum of smooth consistent strokes. Ridges are inevitable, but the more pronounced they are, the more work lays ahead as the persimmons dry. Persimmons are very slippery and will turn your skin brown from the tannic acid. If you bruise the fruit or accidentally peel too deeply, small areas can be patched with a peeling of membrane lain over the spot like a band aid.

2. Hanging: The traditional method of hanging the fruit places several on a string. It is easier to hang two fruit of about the same weight on one string over a pole. If you vary the lengths of the string, you can fit more pairs per length of pole by offsetting the heights. Closet pole works well. If the fruit touches its neighbor or the string while drying, it will stick, create a weak point and break open in the next step. A hot, dry environment is best. Try not to let the temperature drop below 55F. Placing the fruit in direct sun may speed the process, but you will have to "massage" it more often. The fruit must be protected from the dew, or it will get moldy.

3. Massaging: After hanging for 3 to 7 days the persimmon will form a "skin," and you will be able to begin massaging them to break up the hard inner pulp. Give one persimmon a squeeze just below the shoulder. If there is a little give, gently continue massaging with the tips of your fingers until the inside is consistently squishy, being careful not to tear the "skin." Leave the fruit as flat as possible so it will dry evenly. Repeat the process with each fruit. After a few more days, check to make sure they are drying uniformly without hard edges. Those tend to happen along the peeling ridges. If the edges are getting hard, hold the fruit longitudinally in your hands, and gently roll the outer skin, leaving the flat edges in a different spot after going over the entire fruit. Take care to avoid creases in the skin, as they will create weak points that are susceptible to mold. If you encounter mold, brush it off with a moistened tooth brush, dry, reposition flattened and re-hang. Remember to try to leave each fruit evenly thick all over after each handling. Larger fruit may need to be left in a triangle like a three cornered hat until it dries a bit. Keep massaging the fruit gently every 3 to 5 days.

As your fruit nears the end of the process, three to five weeks, sugar will come to the surface as you massage them, leaving a white bloom. The hoshi gaki are fully done when the pulp sets and you can no longer roll it.

4. Storing: When finished, break off the stems to disconnect the strings. Store the fruit in ziplock bags. You can store the finished product long term in the freezer. For the short term, refrigerate. Protect from external moisture.

 

 
 


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