Hoshigaki: Dried persimmon
The tradition of dried persimons, known in Japan as hoshigaki (干し柿) or tsurushigaki (吊るし柿), dates back more than 700 years and is enjoyed across much of Asia, if not the whole world. I had the opportunity to eat some dried persimmons in Russia, where this treat is not entirely uncommon, but failed to find any in Europe and finally decided to make my own home-made hoshigaki. It was just an experiment, as I’ve never dried any fruits except apples before, but the end result was simply delicious.
“Why should I dry persimmons?”, I hear you asking. Well, persimmons don’t grow all year round and drying is not only the best way to preserve these fruits, but it also brings out the natural fruit sugars and healthy attributes, making it a yummy tea treat. Let’s look at how it’s done…
Preparation time: 20 min
What you will need: Persimmons (any type will do), a string and a knife
First of all, peel the fruits with a potato peeler or a knife. Don’t throw out the peels — eat them! Then, take a string long enough to accommodate all of the fruits with sufficient space between them. If the persimmons you bought have stems intact, tie the string around each stem. If not, as in my case, the task will be a bit more tricky, as you’ll need to get the string through each of the fruits. If you have a sewing needle with an eye large enough to be used with your string, I suggest using it, as you may have some real difficulties getting it through otherwise. Also, you’ll have to make a small knot on each side of the fruit. Otherwise they’ll be touching each other which may cause mold growth.
Now that you have your persimmon fruits on a string, attach them on a balcony, ideally somewhere where they could be protected from snow and rain. As you can see from the photo, I’ve had some really bad luck with the weather.
Surprisingly enough, everything worked fine in the end, and in some 2 months I’ve had these natural sweets on my table. I’ve heard that massaging the fruits every morning would make them even better, covering them in sugar, but I haven’t been hardcore enough to try it out. By the way, I completely forgot about the aesthetic and psychological values of persimmon drying… You can’t imagine how pleasant it is to look at the progress every once in a while!
The taste of hoshigaki could be compared to dried dates, but it certainly has it’s distinct features. The sweet can be eaten alone or with tea, and even frozen and stored for over a year.
Have you tasted hoshigaki, or even made your own? If you have any tips & tricks on how to use them, let me know in the comments.