Saturday, February 21, 2009
Until last week, I was happy to snack on dried prunes and pineapple. Occasionally I would splurge on some fresh dates, taking care to hide them in an empty salad bowl. And then this. My mother sent me a bag of hoshigaki.
Hoshigaki are dried persimmons. Sounds easy, right? But these persimmons weren't just slapped into a dehydrator and left to shrivel. Hoshigaki are made following a traditional Japanese method farmers brought to California.
Basically, the fruit (still firm) is peeled, hung on a string for a little under a week, and then hand massaged every few days for 3 to 5 weeks. This breaks up the pulp and moves the sugars throughout the fruit. Slow Food USA has entered hoshigaki into their Ark of Taste; you can read what they have to say about them here,including a list of suppliers. But don't get your hopes up. You'll probably have to wait until next November to get any, and even then, you'd better act fast.
I found a great slide show of the process at Otow Orchard's website. Check it out.
Before my care package from Mom arrived, I got to try a few with my sister, who graciously shared some of hers. She told me they reminded her of tea; my mother said they were very date-like. Tea and dates. What's not to like?
I think they're both right. Hoshigaki have the complexity of tea, the richness of dates. The persimmon's tannin is gone, massaged away. They're wonderful. The temptation is to save such delicacies. They're too special to eat! But I will resist, and enjoy them on rainy weekends with the family, and even by myself on Monday afternoons. As long as I take care to appreciate them (not to mention whoever massaged them, and my mother for giving them to me)I'm doing okay.