Hoshigaki – An Elaborate Japanese Tradition

By happen chance I came across a food article a couple months back that has both opened my eyes and inspired the culinary side of me to learn more and start my own tradition of “Hoshigaki”.

Introduced into the San Francisco area by immigrant Japanese farmers, this is an elaborate, time-consuming process for air-drying Hachiya persimmons. As it translates, “Hoshi” means ‘dried and “gaki” means persimmon.

In the kitchen, fresh Hachiya persimmons seem to always be somewhat frowned upon because of their astringent flavor in raw, under ripe state. However, this is exactly what is required to transform them into sweet, jam-like jewels.

The tradition that has been passed along, fresh Hachiya persimmons are individually peeled and with their stem still intact, carefully strung up to air dry for at least a month long period. This is the easy part; it is during this drying time where the labor of love and transitional beauty of this ancient Japanese tradition captivated me.

After a week of air-drying, now ones culinary dedication and passion must come into play. Each persimmon must be gently massaged for a minute or two in order to move around and breakdown the inner pulp of the fruit.   Not just once, that would be a little too easy. This method must be followed every two or three days until the end goal has been achieved. The Hachiya persimmon transforms into a date-like or jellybean in texture, sweet in flavor and the outer skin glimmers with a natural occurring sugar coating.

Now that almost six weeks has passed my persimmons are finally ready to enjoy, and of course a few will be tucked away for another day.  I can definitely say that the experience was worth every minute vested in this project and I am truly excited to be part of the Hoshigaki club. Along the way I learned a few tricks during the process and I believe most importantly rekindled my culinary passion for learning.

Submitted by Layer Cake Wines fan, Michael Laukert