Friday, October 24, 2014

Hoshigaki and Hachiya persimmons

Hachiya persimmons by the wind machine
We've been busy peeling hachiyas to dry for hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmons) since last week.  Each hachiya persimmon is peeled by hand and then a string is looped around its stem.  The peeled hachiyas  hang in pairs on specially made sticks that fit into our hoshigaki drying racks.  They start drying outside in the sun and wind, then later on we move them to one of the inside drying rooms.

Hachiyas are a variety of persimmon that is astringent when eaten hard.  To eat a hachiya fresh, you need to wait until it's soft like jello with translucent skin.  If you like soft and sweet fruit this texture, you can just eat the hachiya with a spoon fresh.  Soft hachiyas are also the type of persimmon used in making persimmon bread and cookies.  The pulp is added to baked goods in the same way you would use soft bananas in banana bread.

The hard hachiyas we peel to make hoshigaki are astringent at first, but as the peeled fruits dry they ripen and sweeten.  Moisture from the inside comes to the surface and leaves a dusting of white fructose.  The end result is a whole dried fruit with the texture of a date inside and a coating of its own powdered sugar on the outside.   

We are still taking mail orders for hoshigaki.  You can also contact us and arrange to pick up your order at the fruit stand if you live within driving distance. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Pumpkin Patch & Persimmon Time

Now at the fruit stand we have many kinds of persimmons for sale.  There are lots of soft or softening hachiya and also maru, fuyu and vodka-treated hyakume.  We've been busy peeling persimmons to dry for hoshigaki since the beginning of this week. 

There was a good article recently about the orchard in the Sacramento Bee.  In it there's a description of the different varieties of persimmons we grow and information about the history of the farm.  A link to the article is here.

The pumpkin patch is open at the orchard now. If you come to the fruit stand, stop by and let us know if you want to go out and pick a pumpkin and we'll direct you out there. 

Here's what's at the fruit stand now: 

  • Persimmons--Fuyu, Maru (chocolate), Nagamaru, Hachiya (soft and hard), Coffee Cake, Vodka-treated Hyakume
  • Hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon)--whole and strips
  • Asian pears--Okusankichi
  • Apples--Granny Smith, Fuji
  • Pomegranate--White and Red varieties
  • Quince
  • Chestnuts
  • Vegetables--Tomatillos, shishito peppers, jalapeños, garlic
  • Winter squash--Butternut, Kabocha
  • Herbs--Basil, Oregano, Rosemary
  • Bee products from bees at our orchard--honey, propolis, bee pollen, 100% beeswax candles
  • Jam--The Good Stuff jams made with fruit from our orchard
  • Eggs--Free-range local chicken eggs
  • Perfectly Persimmon Cookbook--1004 persimmon recipes by Jean Brine
  •  The California Persimmon--a persimmon cookbook published by the University of California Cooperative Extension, Placer and Nevada Counties. 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

2014 Hoshigaki Mail Order Form

The new 2014 Mail Order Form is now posted here on the website, under the "Hoshigaki/Persimmons" tab.  If you'd like to mail order hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon) this year, please print out the order form and mail it back to us with your check.

In the photo you can see finished hoshigaki being held in front of a rack of still drying persimmons.  We started peeling the first hachiya persimmons for hoshigaki at the very end of September. The hachiyas need to be fully orange, but still hard to be able to peel in order to start the drying process.  After peeling, each fruit takes around six weeks to dry, depending on the weather.  The peeled fruits are hung by their stems in pairs and massaged every few days to help them to dry evenly.  By the end of the drying process, each persimmon has developed a dusting of natural powdered sugar on its surface, and is soft and sweet.

Because of these natural processes and weather variables, orders may take 8 to 10 weeks to ship.  It's important to get your order in as soon as possible, because supplies are limited to what we can produce while the weather permits.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

White Pomegranates, Jujube & Early Persimmons

All are pollination varient varieties We now have a lot of fall fruit at the fruit stand. In the orchard a lot of fruits seem to be ripening early this year, including persimmons.  We actually have some of all the varieties of persimmons picked already, even fuyu.  The first few sticks of peeled hachiyas have started drying for hoshigaki, too. 

White pomegranates are also at the fruit stand.  The outside of white pomegranates are creamy yellow (sometimes with a pink blush) and the arils inside are pink, sweet and softer than those of red pomegranate varieties.  Jujube is still being harvested too, so we have both more firm yellow to brown jujube and wrinkling brown jujube. 

Nights and mornings have been cooler and feel more like fall, though it's still been in the 80's during the day. Fortunately, the smoky air from the King forest fire cleared last week.

Here's what's at the Fruit Stand now:

  • Asian pears--Shinko, Olympic
  • Persimmons--Maru (chocolate), Nagamaru, Coffee Cake, Fuyu, Hachiya, Vodka-treated Hyakume
  • European pears--D'Anjou 
  • Apples--Granny Smith, Reinette Simirenko, Fuji, Pippin
  • Plums--Casselman
  • Pomegranate--White and Red varieties
  • Quince
  • Jujube
  • Chestnuts
  • Vegetables--Tomatillos, red and green Jalapeños, Scotch Bonnet chiles, Shishito peppers
  • Winter squash--Butternut, Kabocha
  • Herbs--Basil, Oregano, Rosemary
  • Hoshigaki--strips and whole
  • Bee products from bees at our orchard--honey, propolis, bee pollen, 100% beeswax candles
  • Jam--The Good Stuff jams made with fruit from our orchard
  • Eggs--Free-range local chicken eggs

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