By Neil Harms
Persimmon drying season began the beginning of October and ended the first week of November. Orders for plain and chocolate dipped persimmons have been coming in since they went on the market in October and the last order of the season was picked up today, four days before Christmas. Looks like lots of dried persimmon stocking stuffers this year! Plain persimmons are healthier, but dark chocolate dipped were the most popular and the best seller. There was also dark chocolate dipped with sea salt and white chocolate dipped. A four-pack which included eight ounces each of plain, dark chocolate dipped, dipped-sea salt and white chocolate was added to the order choices and was quite popular. In all, dried persimmon sales were robust this year but unfortunately, all good things must come to an end.
Another type of dried persimmon is called hoshigaki. To make hoshigaki, a ripe, but hard hachiya persimmon is peeled and hung from its stem using twine as the connector. Hang them in a place with good airflow and humidity. It is also good that the fruit get some exposure to sun. Hachiyas are used because they are long and pointed and as they ripen, the flesh becomes gelatinous. They are hung for several weeks until they shrivel and a natural sugar-coating forms on their surface. For the first week, the hanging persimmons are not touched. When the surfaces become tacky and firm, they are messaged. The messaging should be done at least once every day. The flesh will become soft and pliable. The leathery surface will darken and turn brown. After about six weeks, the fruit withers down and a powdery white bloom forms on the surface. This is an indication that the hoshigaki is ready for consumption.
A chocolate tempering machine was purchased this year. Chocolate can be melted in a microwave or on a stovetop. Unfortunately, if chocolate is melted that way, molecules in the chocolate separate and can cause the chocolate to stripe or spot. Tempered chocolate has a hard, glossy finish and does not melt in your fingers. The taste of un-tempered chocolate is the same as tempered but does not have the same high-quality look to it. Tempering machines are not foolproof and a few batches did not turn out to be perfect, but for the most part, tempering improved the quality of the chocolate.
Another improvement this year was the packaging. The persimmons were previously packaged in zip lock bags of various sizes. The zip locks were functional but not aesthetically pleasing. A new bag was introduced that would hold eight ounces of persimmons and could be hermetically sealed. A Harms Farms label applied to the bag made it look store quality.
If you were one of the unlucky ones who did not get to taste a Harms Farms dried persimmon, there is always next year. Come October, keep checking the website or subscribe to the newsletter for updates on sales so you can be one of the first in line to make a purchase!