This week at the market you can find me running full speed to enjoy a hachiya persimmon from Laura Ramírez at JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch out of Redlands, California.
I wait all year for these bright orange luscious fruits, whose texture is somewhere between custard and jam. They’re extremely sweet, and taste even more so without any acidity to balance the palate.
The flavor is unique, but with notes of apricot, cinnamon, and Demerara sugar.
Don’t eat them before they’re completely ripe though! Hachiya persimmons are extremely tannic, with enough astringency to pull all the moisture from your gums and ruin your palate for an afternoon.
As the fruit ripens, which can take several weeks, the tannins break down and create those particular flavors. (A similar process occurs in dates.) That’s where JJ’s Lone Daughter Ranch excels. Many people grow hachiya persimmons in California, which are otherwise rare outside of Asia, but what farmer Laura does unusually well is develop perfect ripeness.
Every persimmon in every box is without blemish or bruise, and is completely ripened to maximize sweetness.
In Japan, many hachiyas are dried using a special process to create hoshigaki. Though it originates in a method to preserve the fruit for the coming winter, hoshigaki is a more manually intensive process than ordinary drying, which transforms the persimmons into something else.
The persimmons are washed, peeled, trimmed, and then strung up individually by their stems to slowly dry out as the tannins break down at the same time. They are also massaged by hand every so often to break down the flesh inside. When they’re ready, they push a white “bloom” of sugar to the outside.
Upstairs at Gjelina, you can see the hundreds of hoshigaki that executive Chef Juan Hernandez has patiently created.
— The Gjelina Group Farm Team