Massaging Persimmons in Placer County to Make Rare Hoshigaki Treat

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Penryn, Calif.-You wouldn't believe it if you didn't see it yourself. It's a labor intensive process of picking & peeling persimmons, hanging them on a wooden rack to dry, then massaging the fruit over a period of several weeks to create a treat that the Japanese have long known as Hoshigaki.

As the fruit begins to dry, it must be delicately hand-massaged so that the sugars contained in the fruit form a delicate surface with a dusting that looks like frost. Its succulence and concentrated persimmon flavor is considered a delicacy and often given as a gift during special holidays. Hoshigaki is hard to find in California because it costs so much to make. The persimmon fruit, itself, is abundant and affordable, but the hand-massaging day after day makes hoshigaki production an expensive endeavor. The hoshi gaki method is traditional to Japan, and came to America with Japanese American farmers.

In Placer County, Calif. several farms have studied the art of hoshi gaki and have learned how to make the tasty delicacy. Never short for a supply of buyers, they've found eager sources in Los Angeles where chefs love to integrate it into gourmet dishes. The limited production goes fast and sells high, but it's worth a try. Here are several sellers, such as Penryn Orchard Specialties, owned by Jeff Rieger, shown in photo.

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