Japanese Massaged Dried Persimmons

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Japanese massaged dried persimmons are traditional in Japan, and they are still made by a few Japanese-Americans. The process is very labor intensive and time consuming, but they result in a dried fruit that is candy-like, moist, and extremely handsome. Unlike fruits that are dried in a dehydrator which are crisp and thin, these look like fat collapsed persimmons dusted with the bloom of their natural sugars. The stems and calyxes are present, and the flavor is concentrated persimmon— rich and fruity, and not as sugary-sweet as other dried fruits. It is not surprising that these are a delicacy in Japan. These are the basic methods, as Mrs. Martha Miyamura, an elderly woman who has recently retired from massaging persimmons, passes down in her notes: ‘For fruit, I use Hacihya persimmons that aren’t yet soft but which have all their bright orange color. They won’t dry if they’re soft, and the color indicates that the sugar content is high. After being peeled, the persimmons are tied around their stems with a piece of strong kitchen string, 8 to 10 inches long then hung over wooden slats, taking care that the fruits don’t touch one another. After the persimmons have hung for a week and become soft, the massaging starts. With my hands, I gently squeeze each persimmon every day, for three weeks to a month. This brings the sugar content to the surface, which in turns dusts the fruits with a powdery bloom of sweetness. After three or four weeks, I taste a fruit to make sure it’s still a little soft inside. If its ready, the persimmons come down, then rest for five to seven days on paper towels. During this rest period, she flattens and shapes them, then, they’re sorted, sized, and packed into Zip-Loc bags. This massaged, dried persimmon is tied to the Japanese community. Those I know of who dry them live in Placer County in California, an area where there are both Japanese farmers and a wealth of persimmon trees, but that isn’t to say that they don’t exist elsewhere.’ This is very much a local, hand made product. Massaged dried persimmons can be found at farmers’ markets in the Sacramento and Placer areas. They sell for about $1.00 each and are always sold out. As persimmon trees produce crops that are huge one year and minimal the next, they are not always available.

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StateUnited States
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California