It is the perfect season to talk about Kaki persimmons.
Persimmons are very popular as autumn fruit in Japan and some kinds of them are considered luxury fruits.
Persimmon is a favorite fruit in East Asia and was not cultivated much in Europe and Africa. However, recently it has been cultivated in some European countries and is also sold under the name “Kaki”.
I saw Japanese persimmons sold at COSTCO in the US, so it’s already popular worldwide and just I didn’t know.
My town is famous for “Fuyu”, which is considered one of the luxury persimmons in Japan and we could get them that had defects or undersize at a very cheap price.
I have grown up surrounded by persimmon fields and honestly, it becomes not my favorite fruit because I ate them too much.
However, “persimmons” are packed with the full of nutrition for your health. Especially from this season to prevent several viruses, rich vitamin C in persimmons may help you.
Anyway, let’s dig out persimmons if you have never had.
In this post, I am talking about Japanese persimmons and how the Japanese enjoy them.
- What’re Exactly Persimmons???
- Types Of Persimmons
What’re Exactly Persimmons???
Persimmon is a deciduous tree of the persimmon family (Ebenaceae) persimmon native to East Asia.
There are many native varieties in Japan, South Korea, and China. Ripe fruits (persimmons) are edible and are widely cultivated outside Hokkaido as fruit trees in Japan. The wood is used as a furniture material. Leaves are regionally processed as tea.
Persimmon is called “Kaki” (柿) in Japanese and has been loved as “the fall fruits” seasonally.
Roughly speaking, Japanese people enjoy two types of persimmons – “sweet” and “astringent” persimmons.
Wakayama, Nara, Fukuoka, Gifu, Aichi prefectures are famous for the great cultivation of persimmon in Japan, and China, Korea, Spain, Italy, Brazil, and more places cultivate persimmons outside of Japan.
Mainly persimmons cultivated worldwide are “sweet” persimmons, and probably only Japan cultivates astringent persimmons called “Shibugaki” to dry or pickled in liqueur to sweeten and eat them.
Actually, all the persimmons were “an astringent persimmon”. “sweet persimmon” was born by mutation from them.
After a mutation occurred at one time, breeding was added and a delicious sweet persimmon like now was completed.
Types Of Persimmons
As I said, persimmons originally had only “astringent persimmons” exist. Due to rich Tannin, astringent persimmons aka Shibugaki is very astringency so you hardly can eat itself. In Japan, they were pickled in alcohol or sun-dried to make them sweeter.
The reason why Tannin contains become astringent is that tannin is a kind of polyphenol cause of astringency, dissolves in your mouth.
After drying shibugaki, most of the tannins become insoluble, so the astringency disappears naturally.
“Shibu-i” is an adjective term and means “bitter” “astringent” in Japanese and “Gaki” is the transformed word into a voiced sound from “Kaki”. Therefore, “Shibu Gaki” (渋柿) means an “astringent persimmon” in Japanese.
Hachiya gaki is categorized into kinds of Shibugaki in Japan.
A variety with less astringency is called a sweet persimmon aka “amagaki (甘柿)” on the other hand of astringent persimmon. The popular sweet persimmons are Fuyu-gaki, Jirogaki, and Goshogaki. Fuyugaki originated in Mizuho City, Gifu Prefecture, and has the original tree.
As the name suggested, amagaki persimmons are very sweet and juicy. Although those kinds are supposed to be sweet, the astringency remains before being ripe. So you should wait for being ripe when you get young persimmons.
“Ama-i” (甘い) is an adjective term and means “sweet” in Japanese. Therefore, “Ama Gaki” (渋柿) means “sweet persimmon” in Japanese.
How To Figure Out It Is Shibugaki ? Or Amagaki?
For a long time in Japan, it is said that the long-pointed shape is “Shibugaki” and the round and the slightly flat shape is “Amagaki”, but there are many new kinds of persimmons that have been around nowadays, so the definition can not be right anymore.
Well, the easiest way is biting it but it will be not so fun to taste astringency.
One of the ways to find out Shibugaki or Amagaki without a risk, wait for it until becoming ripe well.
How To Remove Astringency In Shibugaki
As I mentioned, astringent persimmons aka Shibugaki is hardly editable in unripe condition.
- Use Alcohol
- Soak In Warm Water
- Use Apples
- Use Dry Ice
- Make Dried Persimmons
Use Alcohol ( The simple, easy, effective way)
When persimmons absorb alcohol, tannins and acetaldehyde combine to make tannins insoluble, so you don’t feel astringent when eating.
- Prepare a liquor with a high ABV of 30% – 40% such as vodka, gin, whiskey, and brandy. (A higher ABV is better to sweeten persimmons.)
- Use a plate to soak a stem of astringent persimmon in the liquor for about 5 seconds
- Place persimmons in a plastic bag (a thick one is better) and tie tightly to prevent losing alcohol.
- Place it in a cool place and rest for 4 – 5 days (or someone says 7 – 14 days).
Large persimmons take a little longer. When the temperature is high, the astringency loses quickly, but the persimmon will not last long.
Soak In The Warm Water (50/50 Results Expected)
Put persimmons in a plastic bag and soak in the warm water (104 F) overnight or more. You need to keep the water warm. This way may not work for some persimmons contains powerful astringency. Also, be sure to consume them in 2 – 3 days.
Ethylene produced from apples has the effect of ripening fruits quickly.
Simply, place 5 persimmons and 1 apple in a plastic bag and tie tightly. Rest it for a week. Persimmons will become impressively sweet and juicy, however, it’s easy to be over-ripe. Better check them carefully every day.
Use Dry Ice
Prepare 20g of dry ice for 1 kg (2.2 lb) of astringent persimmons. Prepare…
- A thick plastic bag
- Newspapers or wrapping paper
- A vacuum machine
- Put persimmons in a bag.
- Wrap dry ice with paper. (DO NOT TOUCH DRY ICE WITH BARE HANDS.)
- Put the wrapped dry ice in the bag
- Close the bag releasing air and use a vacuum machine to completely let the air out. (Prevents the dry ice from evaporating and causing the bag to swell and burst.)
- Tie (double tieing is better) well and rest them for 4 – 7 days.
Freeze It (50/50 Results Expected)
Peel skins of astringent persimmons and wrap each with plastic wrap. Put them in the freezer. In this way, some types of persimmons will still remain slightly astringency. Also, it is better to eat it half-frozen or to use for smoothie or jams.
Make Homemade Japanese Dried Persimmons (Hoshigaki)
Hoshigaki is the Japanese traditional dried fruit, and this is the way that Japanese ancestors found how to eat astringent persimmons somehow.
When dried, the tannins become insoluble. By removing the astringency, you can only feel the sweetness of the astringent persimmon, which originally has a high sugar content.
Health and Nutrition Benefits of Persimmon
Persimmons are actually very nutritious fruits.
Like saying “one apple keeps a doctor away”, the Japanese say “when persimmon fruits are ripe, a doctor will be pale”.
It is effective in improving immunity, beautifying the skin, and preventing a hangover.
Persimmons are good for…
- Those who want to prevent lifestyle diseases
- Those who catch a cold easily
- Those who want to have healthy skin
- Those with high blood pressure
- Those who are suffering from constipation
- Those who often drink alcohol
Rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin A, and Carotene. However, in dried persimmons, most of Vitamin C is gone.
Speaking of Vitamin C, persimmon is one of the popular fruits as a high Vitamin C level which has an antioxidant effect. For example, Vitamin C contained in persimmon exerts a powerful antioxidant effect to protect the body from oxidation, which prevents illness, aging, and skin troubles.
Persimmon is also rich in β-carotene, and its synergistic effect with vitamin C strengthens resistance to viruses and bacteria, strengthens mucous membranes, and is effective in preventing colds and rough skin.
Dried persimmons have less vitamin C, but vitamin A and fiber will be increased. Especially, dried persimmons are well-known for excellent dietary fiber content.
However, due to its high energy, you need to be careful not to overeat dried persimmons.
The “tannin” component in persimmons called Shibuol, which causes astringency in unripe persimmon or Shibugaki, is said to work on the decomposition of alcohol so is effective for hangovers.
Persimmons are also rich in potassium which has the effect of suppressing hot flashes. It also has the function of draining excess water from the body, so if you are concerned about swelling, it is good to consume more potassium-containing fruits and vegetables.
Don’t Forget About Persimmon Leaf Tea
As GoodNight Tea
Persimmon leaves are rich in minerals and polyphenols effective for health. Persimmon leaf tea is made by drying young persimmon leaves.
So if you expect it for persimmon flavor, it doesn’t taste any of it.
The taste is as refreshing as ordinary tea, besides it is a non-caffeine. Some people describe it like a English tea, other people describe it no-flavor.
In fact, persimmon leaf tea has been drinking in Asian countries as herbal tea.
Persimmon leaf tea is also rich in vitamin C. The typical function of vitamin C is to prevent oxidation. Oxidation that leads to aging of the body is due to active oxygen generated by cigarettes, ultraviolet rays, stress.
Persimmon leaf tea contains vitamin C, which is said to be more than 10 times that of lemon. It is very nice for women and recommended for those who are concerned about dry skin.
Vitamin C is commonly known about sensitivity to heat, but Vitamin C in persimmon leaves is provitamin C, which has property heat resistance.
Therefore, you can intake vitamin C effectively by drinking persimmon leaf tea.
Also, since it contains a lot of vitamin C, it is taken when you are not feeling well or when your body is burning. Also, because it contains tannins, it cools the burning body.
Remember Side-Effects To Intake Persimmons And Leaf Tea
While it is said persimmons improve the system of constipation, to some people, eating persimmons affects the opposite- causes constipation. The reason is tannin. When eating many persimmons, you will also take tannins, which may accelerate constipation.
If you overdose tannins more than necessary, such as by eating a lot of astringent persimmons, you may get stones in your stomach.
In oriental medicine, persimmons are categorized as food that cools the body.
This is because tannin is combined with iron and cause temporary anemia.
Therefore, people who have health conditions such as anemia, poor blood circulation, and a sensitive gastrointestinal system should be careful to over-eat persimmons.
It is recommended eating one or two persimmons a day.
Here are tips for you on how to identify good persimmons at markets.
Again, the representative “Sweet persimmon” is “Fuyu”, and the representative “Astringent persimmon” is “Hachiya”. “Fuyu” flattens round shape like a tomato, and “Hachiya” has a pointed bottom and smaller.
Check The Stem
Pick the one that has a stem (sepal or calyx) that vibrant green color or deep green and is perfectly attached to the persimmon fruit.
Typically, persimmons have four pieces of leaves on a stem, but if you even one piece will be lacked before ripening, there is a risk that insects might get in through the gaps.
Make sure one has perfect the calyx.
Find The Perfect Color
Pick persimmons well-colored up to the top from the bottom. It is even better its color is vibrant deep-orange.
Persimmons are easily proceeding to be soft, so you may want to buy fresh firm persimmons to keep for a few days. However, it depends on your taste. Like my father, some people like soft persimmons.
How Long Does Fresh Persimmons Last And How To Storage
If you keep persimmons in a cool place without direct sunlight, the best-by date of persimmons is about one week. You can store in a refrigerator, use a vegetable & fruit drawer rather than the normal rack.
If you want to keep persimmons for as long as possible, put a piece of wet kitchen towels or cotton on sepals. Place persimmons with bottom-up ( sepals on the wet piece of paper) and put in a plastic bag or a container. In this way, it will last for a few weeks!
Not only can it be refrigerated, but of course it can be stored frozen.
Before freezing persimmons, you need to understand that persimmons will stop the process to sweeten. So better to freeze enough ripe persimmons or wait until they are soft.
When freezing persimmons that still enough ripe but not soft (has a crunchy texture), peel skins and cut them in bite-size.
On the other hand, when freezing well-ripe persimmons which begin soften, you can throw whole fruit in a freezer. Half-thaw a frozen whole persimmon and cut an upper part off. Enjoy persimmon sorbet.
Even over-ripe persimmons (but not rotten), make them puree and freeze it.
If you don’t have a good memory about Japanese (Asian) persimmons, you may have eaten the “astringent persimmons”.
Now, you know the two types of persimmons so you shouldn’t be nervous about it!
Also, don’t miss out persimmons excellent nutrition!
It is only limited season to enjoy the fall fruit, and I bought a pack of Fuyu at COSTCO today!
In introduction, I said persimmons are not my favorite, but now,
I really like it.
I remember its sweetness!