Kakis, or Japanese persimmons, are one of the most cherished fruits of the autumn season. Kakis belong to the berry family. They’re round and plump, like a mini orange tomato. In Japan they’re eaten in the same way as an apple. The fruit is peeled, seeded, and cut into slices. Their culture believes kaki to be more beneficial to health than a lemon.
You’ll have the best luck growing persimmons in the Midwest or cooler regions of the United States. Trees can be planted in early spring or winter months. Growing persimmons requires patience, but once they bud they’re really easy to care for. For those of you without a green thumb, check a local nursery for trees in their early stages of growth.
Similar to Asian pears - which I discussed in my last post - persimmons do not travel well. The selection at your supermarket is likely to be limited. If you’re lucky you might encounter hoshigaki, or dried persimmon. The Japanese peel hachiya persimmons, attach them to a string, and leave them to dry in sunshine. Similar to octopus for sushi, these dried persimmons are treated to a gentle massage. The result of this diligent process is a beautiful dried fruit.
Kakis embody notes of cinnamon and jasmine. Fresh and dried persimmon leaves can be used to make tea. Sliced Kaki is a surprise addition to a holiday charcuterie board. Kaki can be baked in pastries and bread. Persimmon pairs well with tender herb roasted pork. Your childhood favorite, fruit leather, can be prepared with kaki and honey.
Tag your fall recipes with #kaki, #persimmon, or #azchefmallory for a chance to be featured in the foodie community.