Hoshigaki are dried persimmons. Have you eaten a persimmon before? They are bright orange fruits that have shiny, smooth skin and a soft, jelly-like interior when they are ripe. Persimmons are available to eat fresh in the fall.
Persimmons fall into two larger groups: the round type that are a little crisp and the pointed type that get very soft on the inside. The latter group are called Hachiya. Hachiya persimmons are typically long and pointy with some black spots on the exterior. They are often dried to make hoshigaki.
Hoshigaki are made by peeling the persimmon, giving it a quick bath in boiling water, tying it to a string, and hanging it in a sunny spot outside for 3-4 weeks. In the fall, if you drive around the countryside in Japan you will see many strings of persimmons hanging outside of people’s houses.
The process of making them can be time-consuming, but the product is well worth the wait. After one week of drying, it is time to give each fruit a light massage. This breaks up some of the fibers inside the drying exterior, making the fruit jucier. As the fruit continues to dry, the outside will become more leathery and the interior becomes sweet like candy.
Companies that make hoshigaki professionally can sell them for up to ￥600 for three! They sometimes have a white sugar bloom on the outside and they vary slightly in shape and color.
If you ever see hoshigaki, I recommend that you try them! They go very well with green tea.