HoshiGaki

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Introduction: HoshiGaki

To be eaten fresh, the Hachiya persimmon must be completely soft, otherwise it is unbearably astringent. For drying, however, the fruits are perfect when the shoulders just lose their green, but are still firm like apples, generally from the end of September to the middle of October. The riper they are, the more delicately they must be handled. Making HoshiGaki requires patience, careful monitoring, and a fair amount of dexterity. However, if you follow the method closely, you will achieve a rewarding product that is succulent, very handsome, and makes wonderful Holiday gifts.

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Step 1: Finding Hachiya Persimmons

Start with a 20 lb box of medium sized Hachiya Persimmons with the stems intact, and store them calyx down. (If you pick your own fruit, pull upward against the branch to retain the stem.) Handle the fruit very gently, as any bruise will create a soft spot that will make peeling difficult and may create a leak during the drying process. Larger persimmons can be dried too and yield a superior product, but require more massaging, so medium fruit is best for beginners. Call your county Agricultural Commissioner or local Farm Bureau to find farmers in your area.

To help prevent mold, wash your fruit thoroughly. Wash all your tools and use clean strings. Wash your poles. Keep your work surfaces clean. Wash your hands.

Step 2: Peel Your Hachiyas

1. Peeling: Sitting in a comfortable chair with a bucket or newspaper between your legs, prop your arms on your knees, and with a sharp paring knife, cut the shoulders off the fruit so they are even with the flat disk of the calyx, with one circular motion. Remove the loose part of the calyx, leaving the stem and a ring of calyx the size of a nickle/quarter. The rest of the peeling is best done with a peeler whose blade is set perpendicular to the handle, the clear Swiss peeler is what the pros use. Holding the fruit calyx up in one hand, draw the blade down the side to the point. Only go over the point once, as the membrane under the skin is thinnest here, and the fruit will leak out later if you take off too much. Rotate the fruit so you are holding the skin side, not the newly peeled side, and take another peel. Continue until all the peel is gone and place in a clean cupcake pan, next to a similar sized buddy, calyx up. Average number of peeling strokes is 17. Ridges are inevitable, but the more pronounced they are, the more work lays ahead as the persimmons dry. Persimmons are very slippery and will turn your skin brown from the tannic acid. If you bruise the fruit or accidentally peel too deeply, small areas can be patched with a peeling of membrane lain over the spot like a band aid.

Step 3:

2. Hanging: The traditional method of hanging the fruit places several on a string. It is easier to hang two fruit of about the same weight on one string over a pole. If you vary the lengths of the string, you can fit more pairs per length of pole by offsetting the heights. Closet pole works well for smaller fruit. If the fruit touches its neighbor or the string while drying, it will stick, and can create a weak point and break open in the next step.A pole with diameter equal to or greater than the average diameter of the fruit is best. Fatter poles will also create more friction, aiding in the massaging that follows. A warm, dry environment, like a sunny window, is best. Allowing the temperature to drop and the humidity to rise at night will slow the process and make the fruit more pliable for the next step. However, any free moisture on the surface can lead to mold. Placing the fruit in direct sun may speed the process, but you will have to massage it more often. The fruit must be protected from the dew, or it will get moldy. If the stem is gone, drive a stainless screw into the calyx and attach the string to it. The first day is critical. You need the fruit to start forming a dry skin as soon as possible. So pick a dry day, with low humidity, and no rain forecast. Once the initial skin has formed, keeping the temperature above the dew point will prevent free moisture formation on the surface helping to prevent mold. If you go to the NOAA site, pull up your local forecast and scroll down the right side, you will find a graphic of the two day temperature, humidity and dew point spreads. The fruit will only dry when at a temperature above the dew point.

Step 4:

3. Massaging: After hanging for 7to 10 days the persimmons will have softened inside, and you will be able to begin massaging them to break up the inner pulp. Give one persimmon a squeeze just below the shoulder. If there is a little give, you can begin massaging. It is best to break up the inner pulp just a little each day. If you massage the fruit into a water balloon, it releases a lot of moisture which can lead to mold or the dreaded blooping. As you work a little each day, try to  leave the fruit as evenly thick as possible so it will dry evenly. As time progresses, work the pulp up from the tip so the entire surface area of the fruit can evaporate the moisture. Repeat the process with each fruit every day. A small massage each day is the best recipe for success. Remember to wash your hands. Larger fruit must be handled in very small careful increments to avoid wet creases that can tear, and release of excess moisture that can create mold. If you encounter mold, you can spray ethanol, vodka works, very carefully on the spot with an atomizer. Alcohol softens the fruit and will change the treated spot into a tender sticky mess, but it can stop the mold. Dipping the fruit in alcohol will cause it to soften and bloop. Quarantine your moldy fruit to prevent the contagion from spreading. Remember to try to leave each fruit evenly thick all over after each handling. Keep massaging the fruit gently every day.
As your fruit nears the end of the process, three to five weeks, sugar will come to the surface as you massage them, leaving a white bloom. The hoshigaki are fully done when the pulp sets and you can no longer massage them. Protect the fruit from moths during the entire process. Store the fruit in zip loc bags in an airtight container. Zip loc bags alone are not air tight. Freeze the fruit for long term storage and to destroy moth contamination.

Step 5:

4. Storing: When finished, break off the stems to disconnect the strings. Store the fruit in ziplock bags. You can store the finished product long term in the freezer. For the short term, refrigerate. Protect from external moisture.

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    12 Discussions

    0
    TlynnT5
    TlynnT5

    2 years ago

    Fantastic instructable. Thank you. I have known about Hoshigaki for a decade and wanted to try them after tasting the delicacy once. I read recently that you can use Fuyu as well but it was the first reference I had seen that said so. Can you? Have you?

    0
    farmerjeff
    farmerjeff

    Reply 2 years ago

    The pollination constant non astringent (PVNA) varieties can be conventionally dried, but will not behave the same as the PCA varieties. Just like drying pears, apples, peaches etc.

    To the readership at large: if you touch the peeled Hachiya with alcohol, you will melt it. You must be extremely judicious treating mold in this manner. It is best to discard moldy pieces sooner than later to prevent epidemic contamination.

    0
    PenelopeM2
    PenelopeM2

    4 years ago

    to help prevent mould -

    string them up in a very cool, *dry* environment with continuous gentle airflow without overcrowding.. ideally outdoors under cover, but a loft is suitable also.. leave the hatch open to encourage some movement of air...

    try dipping them in a salt solution, after peeling, before you hang them.

    scrupulously clean hands when massaging.

    badly mouldy fruits should be removed immediately before they infect the others and go splat on your floor.

    0
    StephaniL
    StephaniL

    4 years ago

    My daughter and I spent 6 hours last Sunday peeling and hanging about 60 persimmons. (We have a prolific tree) today only 6 are left. They almost all grew mold after about 3 days, so I read somebody's comment about dipping them in vodka to suppress mold and decided to put some vodka in a spray bottle and give them all a spritz. The next day about 2/3 of them were disintegrating, dripping sweet goo, going splat. Next time I'll try dipping them in vodka right after peeling, and I think a fan is essential. We were so disappointed, but we'll try again.

    0
    farmerjeff
    farmerjeff

    Reply 4 years ago

    Dear Stephanie, wash your fruit well in commercial food grade no rinse disinfectant before you peel it. You can buy a commercial product at your local self brewing or kitchen supply. Keep everything clean. Keep the air moving over the peeled fruit with a fan at all times. Do not let the humidity climb above 80%. DO NOT DIP THE FRUIT IN ALCOHOL, and do not cross contaminate the peeled fruit while handling and carrying it to your racks. You can use a small plastic perfume mister to gently spray alcohol on small spots of mold, but if the spots are too big, get the infected fruit away from the other fruit as the spores are wind borne. As you have found, ethanol softens persimmons. Doing a few HoshiGaki is usually pretty easy. As soon as you ramp up and try to do a lot, things get out of hand. When mold gets a start, the only option is to start over after disinfecting everything, trays, poles, racks, knives, strings, walls, ceiling and floor. It has happened to all of us.

    0
    Building Books

    I am surprised there aren't more comments about this instructable. It is wonderfully detailed and informative. What is the taste comparative to? I have never had a persimmon. Is there other fruit that this particular technique can be used with?

    0
    icluan
    icluan

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Try it here. Our fresh natural Organic Hachiya persimmons are dried each fall in a slow, patient, hands-on process that usually takes four to six weeks...per persimmon. Each persimmon is hand-peeled, strung and massaged every 3 to 5 days for several weeks. The result is a transformation into a sugary delicacy that is tender and moist with concentrated persimmon flavor. Each 16 oz. package will contain about 8-14Hoshigaki depending on size.

    0
    farmerjeff
    farmerjeff

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Dear Skip, Thank you for your kind words. The taste of a dried persimmon, sweet, jammy and subtle, can't really be directly compared to anything, maybe marshmallow and date. As far as other fruits, you can go ahead and try, but I think that the tanic acid content of the hard ripe persimmon is probably the key. The fresh fruit is astringent if eaten firm, and must be dried or gooey soft to be edible. There is another description on the slowfood.org site under ark of taste. If you google HoshiGaki, two online purveyors come up, usually me first, and then my good friend who originally showed me how to peel. The rest I learned at CHK, college of hard knocks. Thanks again.

    0
    xtianreynoso
    xtianreynoso

    5 years ago on Introduction

    This was Super helpful in my venture into Hoshigaki Persimmons. One thing I did differently was dipping my Hachiyas in vodka before hanging. Helps with mold. Check out my blog:

    http://www.christianreynoso.com/mealsforme/2014/11/11/hoshigaki-persimmons

    DSC_1626.jpgDSC_1620 copy.jpg
    0
    KenCaplan
    KenCaplan

    10 years ago on Introduction

    Great tutorial.
    We have a problem of the persimmons dropping off of the stem/calyx remnant after a week or so of drying- SPLAT on the ground, what a sticky mess.  Why does this happen? Any tricks to avoid this from occurring so often?

    0
    farmerjeff
    farmerjeff

    Reply 10 years ago on Introduction

    Ken, make sure to leave at least a dime size piece of calyx when you peel. Then, wait at least 7 days before the first squeeze and only do about half a squeeze on the first pass. The most delicate time is the first week after the first squeeze when all the moisture makes things soft. Keep the temperature up, the humidity down and the fans going so they do not get so soft and droopy. Later, after you have passed this hurdle, cycle the temperature and humidity so it gets cool for a third of the day, then heat things back up etc. I turn off the heat at night and do my late massaging in the morning when things are softest.

    0
    marketforays
    marketforays

    11 years ago on Step 1

    I have made these using farmer Jeff's instructions, and they are incredibly delicious. There is a time commitment, as you have to tend to the fruit over the course of a few weeks, so you may want to buy them ready made instead of doing your own, but a perfect hoshigaki with a capuccino in the morning is now my favorite breakfast.