More about hoshigaki (Japanese dried persimmons)
In the SF Chronicle there was an article about these massaged dried persimmons ... massaging them while they dry to
- break up and give uniformity to the persimmon flesh
- smooth the exterior so mold doesn't form
- distribute the sugar and allow it to form a white powdery confectioner's like sugar on the surface.
Anyway, I posted some info on how to dry these at home ...
But I found a lot of interesting info about the dried persimmons just in General so I guess that belongs on the General board.
First, here's a picture of the finished product.
Here are a few more pictures of the process of drying, the first rather stunningly beautiful. Loved the picture of someone drying persimmons from the window of their apartment.
This site has links to a Sacramento Bee article about the local farms that make hoshigaki, the process and the different approaches.
It says of the hoshigaki ...
"Small and dark brown except for a light and sparkly coating of sugar, it looks leathery, but yields easily to the bite. Delicately sweet and cinnamony, it is the concentrated essence of persimmon. Hoshigaki connoisseurs prize dried persimmons that are whole, unblemished and more smooth than wrinkled, their frosty sugar bloom delicate and uniform."
The season in California is December - January. The persimmons take 3 - 6 weeks to dry after the October harvest. Rain and fog delays and can even wipe out the crop.
One of the farmers said that figuring the labor into the end product probably pays him $1.50 per hour.
Most are hachiya persimmons, but there are a few other varieties. One farmer thought the gyombo was the sweetest.
A university article in pdf format.
One of the things it says about the history of this industry in the California foothills of the Sierra Nevadas that began in Placer County about 1860 ... "the drying process is deeply influenced by Japanese values of hard work, perfection, and dedication, the resulting product is distinct from dehydrated and oven-dried fruit products."
It mentions a film called ‘Red Persimmon’ about the drying process.
A previous chat on Chowhound about them ... it is not love at first bite for some people.
I guess I just talked myself into spending $19 for 10 dried persimmons.
The Slow Food USA website has a page that describes the process and links to producers of the real handmade hoshigaki, or hoshi gaki, however you prefer to spell it. http://slowfoodusa.org/ark/japanese_p...
A lot of work goes into this. Jeff Rieger, one of the producers, has taught hoshigaki classes through Slow Food, and when you realize how much time and care it takes, the price is a lot more reasonable than paying $5 for a cup of mediocre coffee at Starbucks.
It's too bad you can't buy a few. The Korean markets in LA have packs of 3. I forget how much, but I think around $6-10. If you consider that some persimmons are selling at the farmers' markets for $2/lb (essentially $2 each), $19 for 10 lovvingly dried persimmons isn't so bad. A good hoshigaki is truly delicious. The best ones I've had are homemade, but I would expect the same quality from a farmers' market.
RWO, I strongly suggest you pick up a copy of Bruce Cost's "Asian Ingredients". The book was published in 1988. While it's out of print, it's easy to find at www.abebooks.com
Even after 20 years, this book is still the definitive guide to Asian ingredients. As proof, none of the Chinese recipes included in the book resemble anything you'll ever find at P.F. Chang's.