Hoshigaki | The Patient Art of Watching Persimmons Dry

by | Dec 17, 2016

For the last five weeks, my apartment has been decorated with wrinkled Hachiya persimmons. Drying naturally for over a month, Hoshigaki are Japanese dried persimmons, a celebration of the fall season, a gathering of tiny pretty orange suns in your window.

Beginning with the unripe, tannic orange fruits and air-drying for something like five slow weeks, it was in my fifth week of patiently waiting the sugars began to crystalize on the surface of my persimmon, giving them a frosted appeal in our mild southern California winter (this is the closest I’m getting to snow this season).

How to begin:
Gather as many persimmons as you want. They are made in pairs, so even numbers only. Start with 20-30 Hachiya persimmon for first-timers. Fruits must be firm to ripe, just not mushy ripe. These are high-tannin fruits and will be inedible at the time of making. I tasted one, and it was very very bitter.

You will need:
A paring knife
A vegetable/fruit peeler
A cutting board
Cooking twine, cut into 1ft lengths
Somewhere to hang your persimmons
Deep pot of boiling water for sanitizing

Wash and dry persimmons. Using the paring knife, insert below the stem, cutting towards the center, without cutting the stem off, turn the fruit 360 degrees. This will give you a clean cut to start peeling the rest of the fruit from top to bottom with your fruit peeler. Set your pot of water to boil.

Once all persimmons are peeled, use a slip-knot, loop this over the trimmed stem, and repeat so that you have one persimmon on each end of the string. Repeat for all persimmons.

Next, dip each persimmon into boiling water for six seconds. This will clean the surface of debris and allow the fruits to dry without any mold/bacteria interference.

Once each persimmon is clean and tied to its buddy, find a bamboo length to throw each pair over. If you don’t have bamboo, a driftwood or thick kitchen broom will work, lay this between two chairs. Ideally, your fruits won’t touch each other.

This next part is my favorite. You wait. And each day you gently massage the fruit, which is pretty much just a light squeeze to move the sugars around inside the fruit. On my own time, I have been using an affirmation with my fruit, as I massage each fruit. I repeat ‘I love you’ until I’ve touched the very last fruit, which usually ends in me giddy and smiling and feeling all the good vibes.

You may want to apply a fan during the day to keep the air circulating, and a nice sunny window will also help your fruits advance to becoming a delicious dessert, a sweet thing to share. These persimmons will make beautiful gifts to my family and friends this holiday season and potentially same for you!

If you’d like to take a class in all things slow, delicious and Japanese, Sonoko Sakai holds regular classes, appropriate to the season. Find more information on her website and instagram.