Thursday, November 1, 2012

Hoshigaki update

Toshio demonstrating hoshigaki at the Open House
Hoshigaki (Japanese hand-dried persimmon) is now for sale at the fruit stand.  We expect that by the weekend we should have both grade A and grade B hoshigaki available.  We grade the hoshigaki as premium, grade A or B, depending on how soft it is.  Ripeness of the persimmons, how fast they dry,  temperature, humidity and how much a persimmon gets massaged are all factors that affect the softness of the finished hoshigaki.  If you'd like to pick up more than a pound of hoshigaki, it's a good idea to call ahead and have us set some aside for you.   

We haven't yet started sending out the hoshigaki through mail order.  Only premium grade hoshigaki is sent out by mail order and we don't yet have enough to start mailing it out.  We expect to begin sending out mail orders around Thanksgiving time. If you'd like to order hoshigaki through mail order, please get your order in as soon as possible Orders are filled in the order they're received, and we fill orders as soon as we can, but since the process is weather dependent, some of it is beyond our control.   

Hoshigaki-making is in full swing at the orchard.  We are spending lots of time peeling fresh persimmons and stringing them up in pairs.  The pairs of persimmons are then strung together in pairs and hung on sticks to dry.  The drying racks are almost completely full of these drying pairs of persimmons.   The sticks of drying persimmons first hang outside in the sun for a number of days until they develop a second more leathery skin on the outside and become soft enough to massage.  We massage each persimmon to break up the pulp inside and help it dry more evenly. Lately we've spend hours a day massaging the hoshigaki, with Chis and Tosh even spending hours massaging at night.

After the first massage, the persimmons usually go to the "hot house", which is a small warm out-building with windows and doors that can open, with good air circulation.  After spending a few days in the hot house, the persimmons are massaged again and brought to the big drying room, where they'll get massaged and checked every few days.  The persimmons have become finished hoshigaki after they develop a powdery sugar on the surface.  This drying process takes around 6 weeks on average, depending on the weather.  In cooler or more damp weather the process can take 10 weeks.

This year, the persimmons ripened a few weeks earlier than usual, so we were able to start peeling earlier.  We have had mostly warm weather up until this week with only a few days of rain so far this fall, so the drying process has been going along quickly so far.  When the weather gets colder, the persimmons start softening on the trees.  Eventually the persimmons become too soft to peel, so we'll have to stop.  After that we won't be able to start any new persimmons to become hoshigaki and make up this season's supply. 

In the photo above you can see Toshio talking about hoshigaki to visitors at our recent open house.  At this open house we had a raffle and the first prize winner was unreachable by the phone number on the ticket.  If you have a stub for ticket 880049, bring it to the fruit stand after Nov. 30th and you can get the prize, (a pound of premium hoshigaki).


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