Massage persimmons to bring out sweetness and preserve them
The massage and dry technique is for Hachiya persimmons. Hachiyas are the pointy ones with high tannin, and will make you pucker up if you eat them unripe. Fuyu persimmons look like squat, orange apples. They are low in tannin and can be eaten raw with no trouble. This Hachiya persimmon is not squishy and fully ripe, but this is the time you want to pick it for massaging, when it is still firm. Drying and massaging persimmons is a technique from Japan called hoshigaki.
WHEN TO PICK
Depending on your climate, pick the fruit anytime from the end of September on into November. The fruit should have good color and be completely firm.
HOW TO PICK
Snap off or cut the fruit with several inches of stem to use as a hanger.
HOW TO HANG FOR DRYING
Peel the fruit and hang it from string in a warm, covered location with lots of air circulating. The fruits should not touch each other. Make the strings long enough so the fruits will be easy for you to reach.
HOW TO MASSAGE PERSIMMONS
After 3-7 days of hanging, the fruit will form a new "skin". This is when you can start the massages. Leave the fruit on its hanger and gently massage it to break up the hard interior. Repeat this every 3-5 days for 3-5 weeks. HOW TO KNOW THE PERSIMMONS ARE READY
The final outcome is a dried, wrinkled persimmon covered with a white, sugary "bloom". The fruit will have gone from hard to a firm pulp. You can choose whether to "harvest" the dried fruit when it is still moist inside, or you can continue until the fruit is completely dry and very chewy.
HOW TO STORE DRIED PERSIMMONS
Cut off the stem and string. Some people use a rolling pin to gently flatten the persimmons. Pack them in airtight containers for your pantry or give them to deserving friends -- these are not dried apricots that can last for months, so go ahead and enjoy them within a few weeks. Ready to try this? Plant a Hachiya persimmon tree if you live in USDA zones 7-9; at maturity the tree will give you 330-660 fruits. Lots of luscious, vitamin-packed fruit to dry, eat, and share. For more information about massaging persimmons in hoshigaki, read the Los Angeles Times article about the hoshigaki revival. Placer County, California is a leader in this, thanks to the Japanese immigrant families and the University of California.
HOW TO DRY PERSIMMONS IN A DEHYDRATOR
Persimmons are also delicious when sliced and dried in a food dehydrator. We don't know why, but the drying removes the bitter tannin, leaving an almost melony flavor in the fruit. Find a drying recipe here. Photo credits: Coniferconifer and David Karp.