Japanese Persimmon Shibugaki (渋柿)
Autumn is persimmon time in Japan. The shibugaki is an astringent persimmon that can be enjoyed only when it is very ripe, or has been blet. I like to spoon the soft, dripping flesh out like ice cream from a paper cup.
Persimmons are called ‘kaki’ in Japanese.
There are numerous varieties that come in two very distinct categories; either astringent or ‘regular’.
Fuyugaki The regular persimmon, or fuyugaki is similar in shape to a conventional tomato and is eaten like an apple; peeled and sliced into wedges. This is the ‘garden variety’, entry level persimmon.
Shibugaki The shibugaki is a foodie’s persimmon. The astringent shibugaki is very astringent. A shibugaki that is not over-ripe cannot be eaten, the mouth revolts in immediate protest and extreme pucker, by instinct. (I have tried.) Ripening breaks down the culprit tannins.
Ways to Enjoy Shibugaki
1. Over-ripen Time is required and direct sunlight facilitates this. The inner flesh becomes extremely soft and the taut skin is like a bag holding it together. This is simply an unforced bletting.
2. Steeping in Alcohol Japanese put shibugaki in a plastic bag and pour in some shochu (watered down vodka would be similar) and put it in the refrigerator overnight or for a few days. Alcohol serves as a bletting agent and hastens decomposition.
3. Harvest after Frost Freezing breaks down cellular structure and this hastens decomposition as well. In Japan, ravens love to eat persimmons too, so leaving them on the tree late into the season is especially attractive to ravens.
4. Dried Persimmons Hoshigaki, literally ‘dried persimmon’, is the most common way that shibugaki are enjoyed in Japan. (look forward to an upcoming article on hoshigaki)
How to Eat
I gently cut the top off the shibugaki with a small, sharp knife. Then, with a spoon, simply scoop out the flesh. The fruit is actually decomposing, the tannins decompose too, however the sugar content increases with the ripening and decomposition process.
note: Actually, the shibugaki in the photos below, while it did not taste astringent could easily have been ripened for several more days. The fruit is still firm and holds its shape. Personally, I prefer shibugaki to be about the consistency of very thick yogurt, or homemade applesauce, and that would take several more days.
Japanese Persimmon Shibugaki Ripening in the Sun
Japanese Persimmon Shibugaki – A Gorgeous Specimen
Ready for the knife and spoon!
Japanese Persimmon Shibugaki – Removing the Top
Shibugaki – ‘Lid’ Removed
Shibugaki – Ready to Scoop
Shibugaki – Scooping out the Flesh