Ingredients, dishes and drinks from Japan by Ad Blankestijn

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Japanese persimmon. (Diospyros kaki). かき、柿

Persimmon is the fruit of autumn and when you travel in japan in that season, you can see the bright orange fruit hanging in the trees, against a blue sky. And in winter strings of persimmons hang under the eaves of the farmhouses to dry. A beautiful, seasonal decorative effect.

Bessho Onsen 2004
[Kaki tree. Photo Ad Blankestijn]

The kaki is among the oldest plants in cultivation - 2,000 years ago it was already grown in China. The kaki tree is similar in shape to an apple tree, but can grow to ten meters. It blooms from May to June. In Japan the main harvest time for kaki is in the months of October and November. Unusually, the trees have already lost their leaves by the time of harvest.

Kaki is a sweet, slightly tangy fruit. The high tannin content makes the immature fruit astringent and bitter. At the same time, the unripe fruit can be rather hard. As tannin levels are reduced as the fruit matures, it is best to allow it to rest. The texture will gradually soften and the taste becomes sweeter. This being said, there are several varieties, some of which remain very astringent (the Japanese cultivar "Hachiya") and others that are naturally sweet ("Fuyu"). Kaki can also be made into a confection after drying.

The high proportion of beta-carotene makes the kaki fruit nutritionally valuable. Throughout Asia, different healing properties are attributed to kaki. They are said to be helpful against stomach ailments and diarrhea. Immature fruits are said to be a treatment for fever. The juice of unripe fruit is said to lower the blood pressure and the fruit stem to relieve a cough.

[Kaki. Photo Ad Blankestijn]

This post contains information from the Wikipedia article on kaki.