My kids challenged me to do an ASMR video. I had no idea what that was, and obviously it’s a YouTube trend right now. Knowing kids and what unimaginably dreadful things lie lurking for them to watch on the internet, my fear was that this ominous-sounding acronymic genre of video was something shady, along the lines of ADHD, S&M, or MRSA. To my relief, ASMR stands for and is defined as autonomous sensory meridian response, which is a relaxing, often sedative sensation that begins on the scalp and moves down the body. These videos usually involve no music or talking, just organic sounds. This is my first ASMR video to capture the sounds of persimmon harvesting and drying to make Japanese Dried Persimmons. You can watch it toward the end of my post, just promise you won’t snicker, at least not to my face.
The art of making dried persimmons in Asia is very much like the art of raising Kobe beef. The persimmon trees are lovingly fertilized and watered throughout the growing season and harvested at the peak of ripeness. When they are undergoing the drying process, these persimmons are massaged every day to evenly disperse the fruit sugars throughout the fruit and to prevent mold and help break up clumps within the fruit.
Depending on the locale, persimmons take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks to dry and be ready to consume. Because I live in southwest Texas, the heat and sunshine are plentiful for most months of the year. Persimmon drying can be challenging for those who live in colder climates because persimmons ripen in the autumn, and most of these places have cold and rainy fall weather. If this is the case, setting up a hanging rack indoors next to a sunny window is ideal. You can get excellent results this way, too.
In Japan and Korea, I believe they use the softer, more elongated Hachiya persimmon variety to make dried persimmons, but the tree I grow in my backyard is the crunchier Fuyu variety. Either type will work for this treat.
The hard work put into making dried persimmons pays dividends in taste and texture. They have a candy-like chewiness and a taste reminiscent of caramel, honey, and vanilla. And if you’re thinking why go through the trouble of sun-drying and not using an electric food dehydrator— I have tried that route with unsuccessful results. Dehydrators cannot give the persimmons the same rich consistency and chewiness that natural drying and massaging does. You will end up with hard chunks of fruit that are lackluster in taste and texture. So if you are looking to make persimmon chips or persimmon rocks, I’m not judging you, but don’t expect the same texture or taste as naturally sun-dried persimmons. If you ever have the opportunity to make or try these dried persimmons, they taste heavenly with a steaming cup of jasmine green tea!
Japanese Dried Persimmons
– Fresh firm and just ripened (not soft or smushy) persimmons, either Hachiya or Fuyu
– kitchen string for tying and hanging
– sturdy clothesline if hanging outdoors, or a hanging rack if drying indoors
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1. Wash and dry the persimmons.
2. Use a vegetable peeler or a paring knife to remove the persimmon skin. Be sure to leave the stem, so that you can tie the string for hanging. If your persimmons are missing the stem, you can insert a clean push pin thumbtack into the top of the persimmon to create a faux stem to attach the string.
3. Use clean natural kitchen twine (see recommendation in equipment links above) to attach the stems securely for hanging. Each piece of twine should hold 1 persimmon at each end, for a total of 2 persimmons per string.
4. When all the persimmons have been tied, it is now time to hang them outside to dry in the sunshine. If you live in a cold, rainy area, then you can hang the persimmons indoors near a sunny window. Depending on where you live, it may take anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks for your persimmons to dry. Be sure to bring your persimmons inside each night or during rainy days, in order to prevent mold and rot. If you spot any green mold beginning to form on your persimmons, you can spray them with a little vodka to get rid of the mold. When daylight arrives once more, bring the persimmons outside again to dry.
5. This is where the pampering of your persimmons comes into play– when the persimmons begin to feel dry to the touch (3 to 5 days), begin “massaging” the persimmons every day. When you massage the fruit, try to squeeze them gently yet firmly in a way that breaks up the clumpiness inside the persimmons but doesn’t tear them from the outside.
6. The persimmons are ready when their exteriors are dry and shriveled. Most times there is a hard white crust present on the outside of the persimmons. This is actually the dried sugars that came to the surface as a result of massaging the persimmons. It looks much like mold, but mold will take on a green color. This sugary crust is actually a desirable trait to have.
7. Now that your dried persimmons are ready to eat, you can enjoy them with hot tea or coffee. They are decadently sweet and chewy with intense flavors of honey and caramel. Dried persimmons need to be stored in an airtight container. They can be stored at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, but if saving them for longer periods of time, you can refrigerate them for a couple months or freeze them for 1 year. I hope you take time out of your busy life to enjoy the fruits of the earth and savor every moment.