Last winter, a friend gave us two dozen persimmons.They were of the Hachiya(globular and good when soft)variety that is often used for baking cookies and breads. The other kind also abundant in this area is the Fuyu that is good eaten raw and crunchy like an apple.
I had never seen nor tasted persimmons until we moved to Chico, but had known of them because my mother used to read us Japanese folk tales with persimmons as a focus such as one where a monkey fights a crab for the fruit.
Although a beautiful fruit with shiny orange skins, we didn’t care for the acerbic flavor of fresh Hachiyas so tried making jam, but it also was not appealing as other fruit jams.
What to do with the generous gift besides giving most to Asian friends who relished them? I was determined to find a way to enjoy them.
To the rescue was a feature on hoshigaki(ho-she-ga-kee) by the late Huell Howser on one of his CALIFORNIA GOLD programs. Hoshigaki is sun-dried persimmons and a Sacramento farmer/family made them to ship to Japan where it’s a prized delicacy.
I decided to imitate doing so with several of the fruits.
To dry them, each persimmon needs to be tied by its stem, but only about a third given to us had stems so we were limited in our experiment.
Following the procedure shown, we washed the fruits, peeled them, and tied each to a drying rack, then set them outside in the sun to dry. Using plastic gloves, I squeezed each gently each day to allow moisture to be removed. However, it was a cold, somewhat rainy winter last year, and it took more weeks than the Sacramento farmers’ usual six, but luckily, none got moldy.
Each persimmon turned dark with a whitish surface that is the sugar released as it dried.
When completely dried, they resembled Medjool dates and tasted as sweet!
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