The Pleasure of Persimmons

Way back in April we started drying persimmons to produce what we hoped would be the winter delicacy that is enjoyed in Japan.This week we have been eating the resulting produce and I’m happy to report that not only has the drying been successful, but the result is definitely worth it.

I started out with some 70 persimmons. We lost some at the beginning to mould because the weather, at the time, was a lot warmer than expected. In the end TB suggested running the fan on low to help dry the fruit out. This worked very well. We more or less forgot them for a while, until it was time about a month and a half later when I started to massage the fruit. The idea is to redistribute the moist juices in the interior to encourage further drying.

We ended up with a full bowl of the dried fruit. Definitely a bowl of small treasures to be savoured.

Dried_persimmons

It was a bit difficult to decide when to start eating them as it wasn’t clear whether they should be fully dried or still somewhat soft. We’ve now tried the fully dried as well as some that are still soft and we definitely prefer the latter. The resulting persimmon is very much like a high quality date – both in texture and flavour. Our friends, neither or whom like the ‘fresh’ persimmon, found the dried version incredibly tasty. This could backfire on us as our persimmon supply comes from R’s mum’s tree. Next year we’ll probably have some competition for the fruit!

As we tasted the fruit we discussed whether using a dehydrator would yield the same results. We concluded that there might be some difficulty in fitting the full-sized fruit onto the trays, but cutting up the fruit would not give the same result. Given you need to peel the fruit before you start to dry them they would also need to be started off at least on baking paper to avoid them sticking to the trays. Ah well an experiment for next year.

So here are the before and after photos. Don’t worry the bloom on the dried fruit is the natural sugars that have come to the surface of the fruit not mould.

Kakicompare

Hanging by a thread

It’s persimmon time (or kaki for those who prefer the Japanese term) and we have access to plenty of fruit via our friend’s Mum who lives several blocks away from Chez Fork. We are happily eating the bletted fruit but are also exploring drying persimmons Japanese style.By way of explanation the fruit of the astringent varieties of persimmon must be allowed to go beyond ripe in a process known as /bletting/ before they can be eaten. This process is also applicable to other fruits such as medlars. I thought that this term sounded like something from Old English but discovered via Wikipedia, that is in fact a fairly recent borrowing from the French, coined by John Lindsay in 1848 in his book /Introduction to Botany/.

As for the Japanese they traditionally preserve persimmons by peeling, sun drying, kneading and brushing them, over the period of a month to produce a naturally sugar-coated product. These end up being a highly-prized, not to mention extremely expensive gift item. Given the amount of effort we???ve been through so far just to get them to the hanging to dry stage I think the cost is quite justified. Details of the history and the methods involved can be found via the links.

I spent over an hour the other day tyeing strings to the stems of the fruit. I was halfway through tyeing loops to hang them by when TB pointed out that the strings were too long and wouldn’t fit in the drying box. As we do not have a house with lovely wooden eaves to hang our fruit from we have resorted to the insect-proof box we usually use for drying herbs. This needs to be taken out during the day and brought back in in the evening. There didn???t seem to be much happening with the fruit but when compared the fruit we hung last week (on the left) and that which we prepared yesterday the first batch has already shrunk by about a quarter of it???s original size.

PersimmonstringPersimmon_contrast