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Hoshigaki, realized

Hoshigaki

They said it couldn’t be done. Or maybe they said it shouldn’t be done. Perhaps they said they had never done it. Whatever they said and whoever they are, I did it. 

Several weeks ago, I hung several peeled hachiya persimmons in our basement to dry. Through a process of hang-drying, combined with occasional gentle massaging, they evolved from firm, bright orange globes into squishy, wizened, burnt-siena sacs with a fine, white powder on the exterior. They became hoshigaki, the Japanese traditional dried persimmons. 

Hoshigaki on Punk Domestics There was uncertainty along the way, to be sure. Traditional methods have the persimmons hanging outside, with ample airflow and some exposure to sun. My basement is dark, with one sheltered window on the far end. It does, however, have decent airflow, as there’s a grate that fronts out onto the sidewalk, and a moderately consistent humidity and temperature range. 

At first, the slippery surfaces of the persimmons became tacky, then leathery. Brown streaks began to appear on the flesh. I gently pinched them between my fingers until I felt the resistance begin to give Then, every few days, I would give them delicate massages. 

The flesh continued to darken and reduce. At each massage, the flesh would seem to have firmed up again, but would loosen under my fingers, yielding as if to a lover’s touch. About a month after I hung the fruit, the first bloom of fine, white sugar began to appear on its surface.

Somehow I managed to avoid the scourge of mold, ants, rodents or my dog ravaging my precious quarry. Not that the success rate was absolute; I hung a second batch a couple weeks after my first, and some of these had begun to ripen by the time I got them strung up. Among those, a few erupted during their massages. They still did not mold, but are aesthetically not as pleasing as the rest. Oh well, more for me. 

Hoshigaki, cut

I sampled one of my finished fruits. They had the dense, chewy texture and subtle sweetness I remember from ones procured from local farms, plus just a hint of tannic bitterness lingering on the back of the tongue. It took an ounce of self-restraint to keep from eating them all myself. 

But no, from the beginning the idea was for these to be gifts. I put them in cellophane bags, folded and tied at the top, to keep them from overdrying and becoming tough. And, of course, it makes them cute besides, especially with my fancy Punk Domestics tags (otherwise known as Moo cards). Best of all? Commercial hoshigaki retail at more than $2 per ounce. I paid $2.50 per pound for my fresh fruit. 

Hoshigaki, wrapped

  • lovely!

  • …the art of preserving and transforming food. love it!
    description of the end result makes me think of dried cashew fruit I used to eat back in Brazil.
    thanks for sharing
    H

  • Holy hoshigaki, dude! Two hands clapping.

  • Oh great, Hegui — now you're going to make me obsess over that!

  • You are brilliant and those are gorgeous! WOW 🙂

  • Gini

    Delish! One question– did you continue the massaging after the sugar appeared? If so, how did you keep from rubbing it off?

  • Those are fantastic! I’m so impressed!

  • I loved the way they looked hanging up, and they look great now, too..impressive!

  • The sugar is really part of the skin. You get a little on your fingers but by and large it stays on the fruit.

  • Laura, Cookie, Jen, Marisa and David: Thanks!

  • Those are so beautiful! I can only imagine how sweet and wonderful they must taste. Thanks for this, I may try to make them myself sometime.

  • These are so beautiful! I’ve never tasted Hoshigaki, but I’ll be on the lookout now.

  • Those look amazing! So glad it worked out. Mine did fine this year too, no mold (we had a much drier fall this go-round).

  • Wow! I’m VERY impressed! Congratulations on your achievement, now…. I want a taste. I’m not sure I can do them in Florida, we don’t have basements.

  • I imagine, Lael, that humidity would be as much of a problem as temperature where you are. I think that's what invites mold. 

  • Will you be serving these New Year’s Day?

  • Joe Wicht

    I am completely impressed with the effort (and the delicacy) of your actions. Painstaking effort, to be sure. Sounds like it all paid off. Kudos.

  • They look great! Congratulations on making it work! ^_^

  • Awesome. Love this.

  • Wow, congratulations on the success of your labor of love! I will have to attempt this when persimmon season rolls around again. The recipients of your hoshigaki are truly lucky! Happy New Year!

  • At first I thought these were some strange looking peppers then I realized they were persimmons. Brilliant!
    Nisrine

  • I must admit that at first, these look a little frightening, but I trust your words. I can imagine they are nothing short of delicious.

  • Frighteningly delicious!

  • I wish *I* were your friend. Those are amazing. I also wish I still lived in the Bay Area instead of the frozen tundra called New England. It isn’t fair. Meantime, I do have Duck Breast hanging in the basement but am tempted to give persimmons a try.

  • Beautiful fruit, beautiful photos! Thank you for sharing your technique. I just made some scones today with hoshigaki, fresh ginger, and walnuts, which were great, but… yours are too pretty to bake with!

  • Calycadenia Coziah

    We have persimmon trees and I’ve been making hoshigaki for five years now. I need to make more and more because if I only have one a day- that’s 365- and anyone who tries them says, “ooh that’s good- I want more”.
    When harvesting leave a “T” of the stem to tie onto.
    Cleanliness is important to deter mold. Warmth and air to get the outside to skin over initially is crucial.When they’re pretty solid and sugared, I pop off the top, put 1/3 gallon in a gallon jar and shake occasionally for a few days to distribute sugar and it evens out the remaining moisture. THEY’RE THE BEST!

  • My best friend used to bring all sorts of magical snacks from home when we returned to college after breaks. Big crocks of stinky pickles, watermelon seeds that somehow managed to taste like chocolate cake, and these very persimmons. They were always lovingly folded into paper towels by her mom, and unveiling one was like unwrapping a present. I can still remember the feeling of that sugar against my lips. Congrats on making such a fine treat.

  • cheriek222@gmail.com

    My favorite Japanese delicacy! I have a tree loaded with Hachiya persimmons right now. Can I start the process while they are still firm? I don’t understand how they don’t just ripen and fall apart.

  • You absolutely have to start when they are firm and unripe. Be sure to read the first post to see how it started: http://hedonia.seantimberlake.com/hedonia/2010/11/hoshigaki-the-kobe-beef-of-persimmons.html

  • Sasi

    Looking forward to trying this. What level of ripesness of persimmons did you use?

  • You absolutely have to start when they are firm and unripe. Be sure to read the first post to see how it started: http://hedonia.seantimberlake.com/hedonia/2010/11/hoshigaki-the-kobe-beef-of-persimmons.html