Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Fall Jewel - PERSIMMONS (DRIED KAKI)


After looking into how Astringent type Persimmons were prepared traditionally, I decided to try it myself.  It just so happen that my relative has a persimmon tree, but it is not the FUYU KAKI (persimmons) that we like, but the large cone shaped Astringent type persimmons.  They adorn the beautiful autumn's blue sky view at dusk.  I always wondered if anyone ever got hit on the head by one of those cone shaped persimmons that no one seems to care to enjoy it as much as other non-astringent type persimmons.  My mother remembered those persimmons and wanted to check right into how to dehydrate them.  It brings back the fond memory of 'HOSHIGAKI' (dried KAKI) we used to enjoy in Japan.  Why not make our own?  but how?  what are those 'white' powdery stuff that we always see covering the dried persimmon?  do we need to use sulfur?
Thank goodness to the Internet information access.  We soon got immersed with the How To's of drying the HACHIYA (astringent) type persimmon to one of favorites.  According to several websites, astringent type persimmons start to lose its 'tannin' content as it ripes -- as it ripes, it releases the CO2 and tannin disappears as well.  I do not know the exact chemistry on this, but I trusted it.  But I can't wait for 100's of this astringent type persimmons to ripen.  I don't think you will like to clean after the mushy blobs everywhere.  So, the alternatives as described by the experts were to dehydrate them.  Use dehydrator or sun and wind dry the whole persimmons.
As you can also find the similar information on the internet, in fact, much more detail than mine, I am going to share how I did mine.


DRIED PERSIMMONS - HOSHIGAKI
Equipment:
Dehydrator
Strings 12" long
long dowel or bamboo pole and something to prop them high up off the ground.
Sharp paring knife
Cutting Board

1.  Gather persimmons off the tree with stems on.
Persimmons should be somewhat orangish in color and firm.
If the persimmon skin is translucent looking, it is likely already starting to ripe and soft - do not use for drying, unless you want to try what I am trying.
The stem will be used to tie the string around it.  So, be sure not to pluck the persimmons off the tree, but either use garden scissors to cut at the stem or use fruit picker that would leave about 1/2 inch of stem.  The best is if you can managed to cut the stem into 'T' shape.

2.  Wash and rinse persimmons.


3.  Carefully remove the leaves around the stem.


4.  Peel the skin - skin needs to be removed in order to complete the drying process and to allow CO2 to escape to cause 'tannin' to disappear.  & Afterall it is this 'tannin' that keeps people away from eating the astringent type persimmons vs. eating FUYU persimmons while it is still firm for that crunchiness.
5.  Air dry method:  Tie the string to the stem.  Hang dry on the pole you prepared.  Old bicycle tire frame will be perfect also to hang persimmons off of.  Takes about 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the size of the KAKI.
I am drying mine in the garage. My concern with drying outdoor is with bugs and polluted air and maybe even insecticide that county office might spray to spoil my beautiful persimmons. Honestly, dehydrator is a better tool.  To test outdoor air dry - I am also building a drying rack using 2" dowel as the pole and use 4 of 1/2" dowels to drive through the holes I make on the 2".  Then set it in the garden umbrella's pole stand.  This will give me a chance to dry them outdoor and bring them into garage during the increment weather.
If you have a free mobile metal-bar coat/dress hanger on the wheel, you can use that to hang persimmons off of, too.
6.  Dehydrator method:  Slice each peeled persimmons to 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick.  This is personal preference.  I like thick cut dehydrated fruit over 'chip' like crunchy dried fruits.  Follow manufacturer's recommended temp and length of time.  I set mine to 105'F to 115'F & for 22 hours.

RESULTS:   Is it true that the 'tannin' disappeared when the peeled astringent type persimmons were dehydrated? 
Dehydrator Taste Test - After 18 hours of dehydration, I tasted the 1st slice on the rack - YES!  I was able to consume it without suffering the severe dry tongue reaction one can get from eating the astringent type persimmons; however, a trace of it is detected in the mouth afterwards.















Air Dry Taste Test - This is only the 2nd day of hang drying, so will update this 6 weeks from now.
Resources: 
http://www.sdfarmbureau.org/fuyu/dried_fruit.html

http://www.sdfarmbureau.org/fuyu/index.html

http://www.seedtosupper.com/persimmons.html

Can you tell which one is the ripened persimmons, and which one is still the young persimmons by looking at it?















Fully ripened persimmons can be peeled like ... in summer when you get sun burnt and  your skin begin to peel.  If you gently pull back the peel the same way, the peeled persimmon would keep it's shape (see below).  A taut flesh is exposed and that keeps it from deforming. 

 I sliced the ripened persimmons into halves and place them in the paper cup cake cups.
Then, they were placed in the dehydrator for the full drying process.
Many ideas were posted at other websites to make fruit rolls, jam, smoothies, etc, with the ripened persimmons, but this is what I did tonight.


Ripened persimmons peeled and stands up firmly.





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