Leading up to Christmas in Charleston, it’s not just stockings that get hung by the chimney with care. During persimmon season, chefs tack the strung-up fruit to their walls and rafters to make hoshigaki, a chewy dried treat.
In Japan, where persimmons are prevalent, eaters air-dry the fruit to create what Saveur has called “the Kobe beef of healthy snacks.” That designation doesn’t have anything to do with the fruit’s flavor. Instead, it’s a reference to the special treatment the persimmons receive.
Once hung out under the sun, the peeled persimmons are left alone for a few days, and then gently massaged on a daily basis for six weeks or so. The rationale behind the massages involves the conjuring of sugars concealed within the fruit, and the smoothing of its skin: If an aging persimmon wrinkles, the folds are at risk of developing mold. The goal instead is to produce what looks like a powdered sack of ochre-hued sweetness.
Also like Kobe beef, hoshigaki isn’t cheap. It retails for about $40 a pound. Last winter, The San Francisco Chronicle declared hoshigaki the season’s “breakout social media star.”