One of the varieties of persimmons we have at the orchard is called hyakume. It's a large yellowish persimmon that becomes brown inside if it has been pollinated. If hyakume is pollinated it can be eaten when it's hard, but if it is not pollinated, you must wait to eat it until it becomes soft like jello. A hard unpollinated hyakume will make your mouth pucker up and dry out worse than the greenest banana you could ever taste.
Maru persimmons are the same way, they must be pollinated and brown inside to be edible when they're hard. Hyakume is also called "cinnamon" persimmon, and maru is called "chocolate" since they are both shades of brown inside when pollinated. Both hyakume and maru are very sweet if you choose them carefully. They also each have a slightly different flavor than fuyu (another variety of persimmon that is always edible when hard).
Because it is difficult to tell if the hyakume are pollinated, we treat some of the fruit with vodka to sweeten them and take away the astringency. We sell these as "vodka-treated hyakume", although they are also called amagaki persimmons. Amagaki is Japanese for a non-astringent type of persimmon. The process of treating persimmons with alcohol (vodka or any other type) is called awasu, and is a process brought here from Japan by Japanese American farmers.
After treating each hyakume persimmon with a few drops of vodka and letting them rest for a number of days, all of the fruits are sweet and ready to eat, even though they are firm. We no longer have to worry about whether or not it was pollinated, and all of the treated hyakume can then be eaten firm or in any stage of softness. The first hyakume of the season has now been treated and is at the fruit stand for sale.
At left is a photo of a hyakume growing on a tree in our orchard.