“Hoshigaki” is Japanese for “dried persimmons”.  The Japanese, and Koreans and Chinese, make dried persimmons in the fall for gifting during the Lunar New Year festival.  The Lunar New Year is the biggest festival of the year in many Asian countries, and “hoshigaki” are a sweet treat to give to friends and family, showing your friendship and showing your effort on behalf of the relationship.

The process of making hoshigaki takes about six weeks, mostly due to the time spent drying them.  The overall process involves peeling and hanging the persimmons, leaving them to hang for 4-6 weeks (the time is dependent on temperature and humidity), and massaging them once a day to help water and sugars move to the surface.  Then, you can box them beautifully and present them as gifts.

For hoshigaki, you can use either astringent or non-astringent Asian persimmons.  Astringency will go away during the drying process.  It is important to use Asian persimmons in their firm form, as the starting point.

In detail, this is the process of preparing the persimmons for drying.

  1. Trim the leaves of the calyx into a small circle.
  2. Cut the stem as short as possible.
  3. Into the top of the persimmon screw a 1/2″ to 3/4″ STAINLESS STEEL screw.  (Stainless, so there is no rust.)
  4. Peel away the skin of the persimmon.  A little might be left near the calyx, which is ok.
  5. Tie one end of a string to the screw and tie the other end of the string to a drying rack, so that the peeled persimmon is dangling in the air.
  6. Using a wide mouth glass or jar, fill this part way with high percentage alcohol (95%).  Raise the glass beneath the persimmon to submerge it in the alcohol.  This sterilizes and dries the surface, preventing bacteria and mold growth.
  7. Starting on day three or four, gently, briefly massage each dangling fruit.  This helps to break up pockets of fluid within the persimmon.  Be careful not to tear the persimmon open, when massaging it.  If the tear is minor, you can re-dip it in high percentage alcohol, and it will “heal”.  (Otherwise, eat it to get an idea of how the drying is coming along!)
  8. As an optional step, at day 3 or 4, while the persimmon is still early in its drying, you can dip it in whiskey or cognac.  (Rum is also possible, it the rum contains no sugar.)
  9. After 4-6 weeks, the persimmons will feel firmer, and as you massage them they will keep the shape into which you press them with your fingers.  At this point the water content is getting low and the persimmon is nearing completion.
  10. Leave them hanging for a few more days without massaging them.
  11. Cut them free from the drying rack.  Remove the strings and screws from the persimmons.  Box or bag them and place them in the refrigerator until you see your friends and family.