Hoshigaki -- peeled, dried and hand-massaged persimmons -- are an old traditional food, usually reserved for celebrating the New Year. You start the process in the fall, leaving a stem attached when harvesting (stems are usually clipped off to prevent them from damaging other fruit), removing the thin outer layer of skin on a still-hard Hachiya persimmon, tying a string to the stem, and then naturally air drying the exposed fruit, massaging the flesh -- every three to five days for three to five weeks -- until it softens and dehydrates, pushing out a thin layer of white sugar coating. It's not exactly an afternoon project.
This old school preservation process finishes up right around the end of the year, cementing it as one of those evocative flavors of the season -- lightly moist, chewy, and dense with some super concentrated persimmon flavors that are missed when the fruit is fresh. Persimmons have the highest glucose content of any tree fruit. And that sweetness buries an otherwise complex flavor profile of citric tang, jasmine, cinnamon and cloves. In the hoshigaki, they emerge.
This is old school food preservation. We're talking at least hundreds of years of traditional foodcraft. Farming is labor-intensive enough without adding this to the chore list and unsurprisingly, only a few do. Penryn Orchards has had them available around the holidays for almost a decade now. Seeing them after February, let alone summertime, is a little like finding an unopened holiday present in June. Happy New Year, courtesy of Peacock Family Farms.
Scott Peacock's persimmons are glorious in the fall. He grows a few varieties of both the Fuyu (the flat, squat and crisp type) and the Hachiya (astringent when hard, but crazy sweet when soft). Both are large, sweet and a little spicy, grown from well-established trees.
Last season, Peacock decided to make Hoshigaki out of both types. Peacock puts it in a pragmatic light, too. "It extends the selling season for my persimmons with a great result," said Peacock. "It's hard work, but I like the outcome."
Hoshigaki in June are just a little different than holiday-adjacent hoshigaki. The drying process continues and come June, they take on a date-like texture. Cut into small strips they are a carmely candy accompaniment to tea, but this is summer, so soaking it in a little tequila as a cocktail garnish would be more seasonally appropriate. They also pair beautifully with salty Manchego.
Kept in an airtight container, they will last for a year. Peacock's summer Hoshigaki are a pleasing reminder that do-overs can be anytime we want them to be. Happy New Year. Again. You can find Peacock Family Farms at the Wednesday Santa Monica market and the Sunday market in Hollywood.
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