We wanted to correct a bit of misinformation that some of you may have read in the Rafu Shimpo, a Japanese language newspaper based in Los Angeles. In a Dec. 9th article sent to us recently, columnist George Yoshinaga wrote about hoshigaki and Otow Orchard. While we appreciate that Mr. Yoshinaga took the time to write about hoshigaki production at our orchard, we want to make sure that he and his readers have the right information. We wrote an email to him personally, but thought it would be a good idea to also post some corrections here.
Although Mr. Yoshinaga's point was to stress the amount of time and effort required to dry persimmons, some of his information was not accurate. We actually devote about 4 months a year to the process (rather than 6 weeks), since drying takes between 4 and 8 weeks from beginning to end.
Mr. Yoshinaga wrote in his column, "I was not aware that it took a lot of delicate work to produce dried persimmons. First, there is the hand-peeling, followed by hand-massaging the fruit over five days to bring the natural sugar to the surface". Actually, depending on the weather and the ripeness of the fruit, persimmons take a minumum of 4 weeks to dry with hand-massaging every 3-4 days. After peeling and hanging, the massaging that they get every few days does help to bring the persimmon's natural sugar to the surface, but the first sugar crystals are not usually visible for a few weeks. At the end of the drying process, some of the persimmon's natural sugar crystals have become a dusting of powdery fructose on its surface.
Towards the end of the season, when the persimmons are riper and the weather is more damp and cool, the drying process can take 8 weeks. This year we have found that most of the hoshigaki that we began drying from November on has taken close to 8 weeks to finish. All of this accounts for the reason we have to charge upwards of $35 to $40 a pound for hoshigaki, instead of the $12-$25 price that was mentioned in the article.
Above is a photo of Obaachan (Helen Otow) this Fall, massaging persimmons where they first hang outside on the wall in the sun.