Fresh Facts 9: Hachiya Persimmons

By November 5, 2017Fresh Facts, Newsletter

DO NOT EAT THE HACHIYA PERSIMMONS UNTIL THEY SOFTEN!!!

Every year, same warning message accompanies the annual Hachiya persimmon delivery, and every year some poor newbie eats before they read. The good news is they get to practice their whistling for a couple hours and wherever you find a whistler, you’ve found a better place.

Maybe hard Hachiya induced whistling could be the key to world peace and happiness. It’s really hard to be grumpy or angry while whistling. I wouldn’t want to be the one passing them out to armed combatants though, might get shot before the happiness started.

Hachiyas have something called alum that goes away as they soften. Alum draws your mouth up into a pucker—which could also be perceived as an invitation to kiss!… Wow, I never thought of all the fabulous benefits of hard Hachiyas: whistling, kissing, this may be the new super food!

The real positive contribution Hachiyas make to our world however is in the baking realm. Hachiya pulp added to anything will make it moist and gooey good. Hachiyas are native to Japan where they’re called Kaki. It’s a lot of work, but in Japan, they peel them from the calyx down while they’re still hard, then hang them with string from their stems on racks. Every day, they are gently squeezed so they exude a little sugar. If you’re patient, and do it right, you end up with what looks and tastes like a huge date that has been rolled in powdered sugar. Locally, the Nisei (second generation) carried on the tradition but I don’t see my Sansei (third generation) classmates keeping it up; just too time consuming.

Around here, everybody either has a Hachiya tree in their back yard or knows someone who does (in Kingsburg, the only reason you lock your car door is to keep someone from putting a bag of Hachiyas—or zucchini—in there) so persimmon cookies are in every cookie jar, and at every holiday gathering for the next couple months.

So, here’s what you do: spread ‘em around the house as fall decorations for a bit, then when you’re tired of looking at ‘em, throw ‘em in the freezer till you’re ready to bake. If you want to bake tomorrow, freeze ‘em overnight, take ‘em out in the morning and when they thaw, you’ll be ready to go, they’ll be soft, ready for pulping, and the alum will be gone.

Now if you’re a farmer, the ones that don’t get picked will ripen to almost a translucent appearance after the first fall frost. They’ll be like water balloons, and you can just open ‘em up and suck that rich pulp right up. This is an outdoor activity and the same folks who enjoy ripe leaner peaches, plums, and nectarines will totally be into it.

But fear not ye crunchers, do not despair for next week, the Chinese Fuyus should be in your box. Fuyus are the flat ones and you eat ‘em hard like an apple. Not as much fun for us leaners, but everybody gets something to love.

Eat better!

Author Uncle Vern

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