Hoshigaki (干し柿)

Hoshigaki is a kind of dried fruit made by drying Japanese persimmons. It is also known as Korogaki or Shirogaki. It is made in Japan, the Korean Peninsula and Vietnam. The process for making Hoshigaki has also been brought to California, U.S.A. by Japanese immigrants.

In order to make Hoshigaki, the peel of the persimmon should be removed while leaving the T-shaped stem attached, and tie this T-shaped part of the stem to a string. This T-shaped part is called shumoku (a wooden hammer). Then up to ten peeled persimmons are tied up with one string; this is called a ren (strand), and to avoid the rain, hang the string of persimmons to dry under the roof or eaves of your house. It is also called Tsurushigaki (hanging persimmon) due to this process.

The persimmons used for Hoshigaki are astringent persimmons and, as they dry more quickly, cultivars with small fruit are often used. Drying makes the soluble tannin (Kaki-tannin) of the astringent persimmon insoluble (removing astringency), and as the astringency disappears, the sweetness becomes stronger (it is said that the sweetness is about 1.5 times that of sugar). Its flavor and texture is considerably different from that of sweet persimmons eaten without drying. Because of this, some people don't mind eating Hoshigaki even though they don't like eating raw sweet persimmons, and on the contrary, others don't like Hoshigaki even though they like sweet persimmons.

Different from astringent persimmons, sweet persimmons can be eaten without removing astringency. However, unlike astringent persimmons, making sweet persimmons into Hoshigaki will not make them sweeter, as the sugar content itself is much higher in astringent persimmons.

There is often white powder on the surface of the fruit, which is from the crystallization of sugar in the persimmon.

The major cultivars of astringent persimmons used for Hoshigaki include Ichidagaki (from Inadani [Ina Basin], Nagano Prefecture), Benigaki (originally from Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture), Dojohachiya (originally from Mino area, Gifu Prefecture), Sanjagaki (Fukumitsu-machi, Toyama Prefecture) and Koshu-hyakume.

It was natural that it would contain seeds as they were originally dried as is. Today, though, there are seedless Hoshigaki made by drying the fruit after removing the seeds.

One type of Hoshigaki called anpogaki, is fumigated by sulfur and remains soft and juicy even after drying.

As of late, the string used to tie the shumoku is commonly plastic. Originally, though, palm leaves, corn husk and hemp were used.

It is said that it was stored as winter preserves in ancient times similar to other dried food.

Nutrition

Persimmons are rich in vitamin C, and a large one can provide the daily required amount. However, vitamin C is lost when making Hoshigaki, while the amount of vitamin A is twice that of before.

Furthermore, Hoshigaki are rich in dietary fiber.

However, they are not recommended for those who suffer from anemia, as eating too many of them can cause an excess of tannin which hinders the absorption of iron.

It is good to eat one or two a day.

Furthermore, persimmons can be effective in preventing alcohol sickness, and it is said that eating a ripe sweet persimmon can make you feel better when you have a hangover.