Dried California Persimmons
When ripe, the skin of the hachiya persimmon displays a smooth, gentle lustre—as if lit from within; it is the deep, resonant orange of dusk or flame, streaked occasionally with black. cupped in one's palm, the fruit is plump, ample, weighted, giving slightly to the touch. The flesh within possesses a sweet, honeyed flavor; its texture is that of thick jelly dissolving on the tongue. The hachiya persimmon reaches a stage of ripeness so fragile that it must be handled very delicately, the fruit as vulnerable as it is exquisite . . .
In my desire to offer a gift for the new year, I thought of the heart-shaped hachiya. The season of this fruit is so extraordinarily fleeting, but I knew the possibility: through careful drying, I could make the persimmon last a little longer . . . I could preserve it at its cusp of tannicity into a concentrated sweetness, even offer the fruit as nectar for courting lovers on the feast of saint valentine . . .
The months of November and December are devoted to the preparation. There is, for me, a beauty and serenity surrounding the process—hand harvesting and peeling, air drying and gentle massaging—I'm not surprised that I love creating and passionately monitoring each step. Like making chocolate, the integrity of drying persimmons involves an intimate relationship between maker and fruit; we must together pinpoint a fluent cadence, one integral to maintaining the quality of the final form.
The drying of a hachiya rises into a fruit of tender, succulent, chewy interior—as vivid and evocative as the ripe persimmon itself. Its taste is ambrosia with an intricacy of flavor reminiscent of apricot, date, the hint of cinnamon. Once completely dried, the hachiya persimmon reveals a startling beauty. Sliced thinly on the diagonal, it is delicious as a solitary morsel, served as a component of a cheese-and-fruit platter, or dipped in velvety dark chocolate.