Hoshigaki are a Japanese delicacy made by, believe it or not, gently massaging persimmons while they air dry. I took a workshop this weekend taught by Laurence Hauben on how to make this remarkable fall treat. It’s persimmon season right now, so if you want to try this at home you better jump on it. While a lot can go wrong in the month it takes to make Hoschigaki, the process is not complicated.
What kind of persimmons to use
The persimmons used to make Hoshigaki are astringent varieties such as Hachiya. Ideally, choose fruit that still has part of the stem. There is a workaround later in these instructions if you can’t find persimmons with stems. Use firm fruit, though a few soft spots are ok.
Slicing and peeling
The first step is to cut the top off, while carefully leaving the stem that they will hang from. Note the knife trick you use to do this. Turn the fruit, not the knife:
Next you peel the skin off the fruit:
Cut a 24 inch length of string and tie it into a loop. Take two similarly sized fruit and tie their stems together with the string:
A 2 inch diameter bamboo pole is just about right to keep the persimmons separated.
A sunny window is a good place to hang the persimmons. The curtain, in the photo above, was only closed for the sake of the class. It’s best, actually, if the fruit gets sun. I’ve got mine hanging in our living room in a sunny window. And you want good air flow–either a fan or an open window (if it isn’t too cold out).
If the fruit does not have a stem attached you can insert a screw:
The first week you don’t touch them. After a week has passed you begin to gently massage each persimmon every other day. Hauben suggested a light touch rather than a “deep tissue massage.”
After a few weeks of massaging, fructose in the fruit will begin to come to the surface, making it look like the persimmons have been dipped in powdered sugar. They are done when they have a chewy texture.
In Japan, persimmons are dried by hanging them from the eaves of houses. A friend of mine who tried that had every single one consumed by squirrels in just one day. So indoors is the way to go.
Hauben’s class was really great–we went home with a crate of fruit and even our own bamboo pole. She teaches in the Santa Barbara area and you can find out more about her classes on her website: www.marketforays.com
For more detailed Hochigaki directions there is an Instructable.
I’ll report back in a few weeks on how our batch went.
Here’s a pic of our fruit after hanging inside for about a week. So far all looks good:
Mission Successful! They dried to perfection in one month. Read more here.