Tejal Rao from cooking.nytimes.com has a great recipe for Hoshigaki or Dried Persimmons which are delicious.
Follow these steps:
- Wash the fruit well. Remove the leaves, then use a knife or vegetable peeler to remove the peel from the crown of the fruit around the stem. Continue to peel the entire fruit, leaving the stems intact and cutting out any brown spots. Set up a rack or bar, such as a clean laundry rack, near a window with a large piece of parchment underneath. You should be able to suspend the fruit so they don’t touch one another or any other surfaces.
- Tie and sterilize the fruit: Cut a 20-inch piece of thin string for every 2 persimmons and tie the string to the stems of the persimmons using no-slip knots on both ends of each piece. Trim excess string if needed. If the stems aren’t long enough to tie, fix binder clips to the stems and tie those. If the stems aren’t long enough for that, run short bamboo skewers through the tops of the persimmons and tie the skewers. Bring a pot of water to a boil and, holding each piece of string at the center, dunk the fruit for a few seconds, then lift out.
- Hang each string over the prepared rack, so the fruit is dangling on either side of the bars, but not touching anything. Ideally, keep the rack in a sunny, dry, well-ventilated spot, either indoors or outdoors.
- After a week of drying, you can start to lightly knead the fruit every day, rolling each one gently in clean hands to help it dry evenly. Watch for any mold, which you can remove with a cotton swab dipped in alcohol, and for firm spots, which you can focus on when you knead the fruit.
- Over the course of about 3 weeks, the persimmons will shrivel and shrink, and its sugars will come up to the surface and crystallize, forming a white layer. Once the sugar is visible, you can eat the fruit or continue to dry them, and you can stop kneading them. When the fruit is firm and dark and more powdery sugar covers the surface, it’s ready to remove from the drying rack and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month or in the freezer for up to 6 months. It tastes best immediately after drying, when you can slice and eat it as is.
If you’re very lucky in Los Angeles, you have a big, gnarled persimmon tree just within reach, full of fat orange fruit in the fall. I don’t have this, but I have a friend who does — another kind of luck — and her family generously gives away their fruit all season.
Some persimmons are native to North America, but the ones I covet this time of year are not. The hachiya varietal grows all over Southern California, but it’s native to China, and prized there, as well as in Korea and Japan. Unripe hachiya persimmons are particularly beautiful: almost heart-shaped on thick twigs with their little rounded collars, glossy orange skins and bright flesh the color of sunshine filtering through your closed eyelids. But for all that, they’re not so good to eat, at least not right away — their juice is so astringent, so tannic, so like your very first taste of wine, that your tongue pulls away involuntarily.
You can wait and let them ripen until the flesh gets drippy and almost translucent or you can dry them. When the fruit is dried, when it loses all of its initial prettiness and turns small and dark, so deeply wrinkled that it’s practically ridged, covered all over in a suspicious looking ash of sugar, that’s when it becomes truly delicious, transformed like a piece of charcuterie. This takes a few weeks if the fruit is on the small side, and the weather is sunny and dry, and a bit longer if it isn’t.