How to make dried persimmon (Hoshikaki)

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These trees litter our town and most are left unpicked!
Growing up in southern California persimmons were not a common sight.  In fact the first time I ever tried a persimmon was here in Japan.  They are actually very good if picked at the right time.  If picked too early you are left with an astringent mouth full of cotton balls and if picked to late it is too soft and turns to mush before you can even get it into your mouth.
Now there are two types of persimmons here in Japan.  There is the winter persimmon which is described above which can be eaten right of the tree and what the Japanese call the “shibugaki” or astringent persimmon which has to go through a drying process before being consumed.  This persimmon is a little longer and more oblong than its readily edible partner.  But both appear the same at a distance.  Be careful if you don’t know the difference!
If you ask people give persimmons away freely!

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So they dont have to clean or deal with the wildlife coming!

I would like to explain how to make hoshikaki or dried persimmons the way my neighbors taught me.  It’s pretty easy and straightforward.

First you need to pick the persimmons a little early while they are still firm/hard.  This is a very important step because if you pick them too late they are too soft and will fall apart on you and are generally weaker against the weather, mold, and longer preservation.  Once you have picked the persimmons you need to leave a little branch left on the top of the fruit so that you can tie a string onto them later on.  After you have groomed the branches to a length of your liking its time to start peeling the skin off the fruit.  There are various different ways to so choose a method that takes the least amount of effort if you are dealing with a lot and also the least amount of pulp of the fruit.  Once you have peeled all your persimmons I like to take the excess skins and bury them in the garden or back under the tree as fertilizer.  The next step is very important and quite often people don’t know about it or overlook it.  You should boil your peeled persimmons for about 10-30 seconds to kill bugs and bacteria so that they can’t harm the persimmon from the inside during the drying process.  We want the persimmons as strong as possible for their extended stay outside.  Once this step is complete I like to connect two persimmons by a string approximately an arm’s length long and throw them onto the clothes line/pole under my patio.  Fresh air and sun is very important to keep it mold resistant, bugs from lingering, and keeps temperatures cool.  Most people here in Japan keep them under the eaves of the roof on their houses but in a drafty garage window, under a patio, or just out in the open is fine too.

Some people do just a few!
Others do enough to last through winter!
A little hint, though.  Birds, squirrels, deer, and pretty much all wildlife love these little treats so keep them protected or all your hard work will be in some critters tummy and all in vain.  Once they have been hanging around a week a little fruit massage is in order.  Fruit massage?  Really?  Yes!!  A few light squeezes on each fruit helps to circulate the fructose inside and brings the sugar to the surface.  Do this every few days for a few weeks watching closely for mold, too.  Make sure your massages are gentle or you will damage the fruit.  Once they have become chewy or to a texture of your liking they are ready to be eaten.  This is done by trial and error and taste testing the fruit once you think they are ready.  They usually take close to a month to be edible depending on the weather and size of your persimmons!
Enjoy!

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