Dried Persimmon – Types and other relevant details

By: Dried Persimmon Filed Under: Cultivation Posted: January 30, 2013

Nearly 90% of the persimmon variety sold in the world is the Chinese-native Diospyros kaki. It spread to Japan and other parts of Asia before reaching California and southern Europe in the start of the 19th century. Being a sub-tropical plant, persimmon thrived in their moderate winters and mild summers. Another variety of persimmon is Diospyros lotus, which was known even to the ancient Greeks. They called it “fruit of the Gods” and “nature’s candy”, leading to the establishing of persimmon’s scientific name Diospyros, which literally means “the fire of Zeus”.

Persimmon comes in two major varieties, stringent and astringent. Astringent persimmon is inedible until ripe, as it contains massive amounts of tannin when unripe, leading to a bitter taste. The tannin content can be removed in various ways, including ripening persimmon by light exposure, putting them outside for several days and wrapping the fruit in paper to increase the ethylene concentration in the surrounding air. Freezing them, either in the refrigerator or outside in winter, can also speed up the ripening process as cell walls break down and release ethylene.

A cultivar of the astringent D. kaki called Hachiya is very popular in Japan, and is the most used variety in making dried persimmon, called hoshigaki. Traditionally, the fruit is hung outside to dry for two to three weeks, before being exposed to heat for several more days before being shipped to market. Hoshigaki is usually eaten as a snack or dessert instead of an actual meal, and is known with various names in various countries, such as shìbǐng in China, and gotgam in Korea, where it is an ingredient to make sujeonggwa, a traditional Korean spicy punch.

To dry Hachiya persimmons in more modern ways, one can use an oven or a dehydrator. The persimmon should be ripe, sliced, but may be peeled or unpeeled. Unripe Hachiya can also be dried whole, unpeeled, to help reduce the astringency and develop a sweet, softened texture.

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