Sunday, October 18, 2009


Sarashi-gaki (Astringent persimmons treated with alcohol)

I don't think anyone does this outside Japan. Maybe even in Japan, not many people do this or know about this. I'm talking about treating astringent persimmons with alcohol to remove the astringency. It's easy. You just have to wet the top, including the stem end, of the persimmons with strong liquor and put them in a plastic bag, wrap well and leave in a warm place (around 35 to 40 degrees C? I'm not sure) for 2 to 3 days. We usually use shochu (distilled spirit) named 'White Liquor' or whiskey.

Acorn-shaped astringent persimmons

Actually the ones in this photo look rather round, but usually astringent persimmons are acorn-shaped. (Don't tell me that some acorns are flat and round.) Non-Japanese people might be more used to eating/using the pulp of VERY ripe, soft persimmons, but in Japan, it is more common to eat sweet varieties of persimmons while they are still firm, and sun-dry astringent varieties to make hoshi-gaki. It is not very popular to make sarashi-gaki like we do, though.

Our family used to put a bagful of alcohol-treated astringent persimmons in leftover warm water in the bathtub (traditionally we don't wash our bodies in the bathtub and the whole family members share the water in the tub), or leave them in the sun for several days, or in a kotatsu heater.

Now the majority of the grannies in this community use -- I'm not sure how you call this in English -- electrical warming mattress? Mom wraps the bagful of alcohol-treated persimmons with the mattress, then with another blanket, turn on the switch and leave it. In about 2 to 3 days, the astringency will be gone and the persimmons turn soft, but not overripe-soft, and sweet. And I would say that the sweetness is a bit different from that of sweet varieties of persimmons. Honestly I like this sarashi-gaki better than regular sweet persimmons.

But, I wonder if Japanese manufacturers of the electrical warming mattress would approve of this use of the product. :P

BTW, I uploaded some photos from our traditional festival here, if you are interested. :)
OK. Now I remembered what "mattress" meant in other countries. Yeah, perhaps I should have used the word "pad." What my mom uses looks like this (a little thinner, though) and I guess it's too stiff and too narrow to be called a blanket, maybe?

(Added Oct. 28, 2009)
Oh, I hope that no one has tried making sarashi-gaki from what I wrote above yet. When I asked mom what to do, she did say, "Remove the stem ends." But today we made some more sareashi-gaki, and I found out that the following was what my mom really meant.

First thing to do is to trim the unwanted part of the calyx and pull out the stem. Today we pinched the stem with a nipper and twisted the fruit. Ideally, the stem should come out and leave a hole like this, but when it didn't, we poked the center with an ice pick. Mom said that just poking was enough--you don't really need to dig out the stem to make a visible hole.

Next step: Dip tissue paper into whiskey and wet the top part of the persimmon carefully. Put alcohol-treated persimmons in a thick plastic bag, tie the top with a string, then put it in another thick plastic bag and tie the top.

Wrap the bag with electric blanket (or bed pad or mattress pad or whatever it is called) and then with another regular blanket. Leave for 3 days.

This was how we brought back the harvested persimmons from the orchard. Dad held the front end of the bamboo and I held the other end.



debbie said...

Hi Obachan,

I believe what you are referring to is called an electric blanket? Hope your days are going well : ) Cheers!

acquaviva said...

You're right, here in Italy I can find only ripe persimmons on sale. The italian name is "cachi", that sounds "kaki", quite similar to japanese "gaki"! I'm very interested in this peculiar Japanese way of treating the firmer ones, and I have shochu and "termoforo" (electric blanket)at home! So I'll ask for unripe persimmons to a friend who owns a persimmon tree and test your recipe...
Your photographic reportage about the feast is so vivid and involving...

K and S said...

this is so interesting! thanks for sharing :)

obachan said...

Oh? I thought blanket meant the cover that goes over your body, and what you sleep on was called mattress. Hummm... maybe not.
Anyway, something new is happening in my life now, which is again pretty stressful, but maybe better than being bored.

Yeah, "cachi" does sound like "kaki." In Japanese the fruit is called "kaki," but when combined with certain preceding words, the first "k" sound is changed to "g," so you hear "...-gaki."

I can't really "recommend" this method to you or anyone, because I don't know what it would do to your electric blanket if you leave it ON consecutively for 3 solid days.

But if you can't resist the temptation to give it a try, here's a couple of advice. Though firm astringent persimmons are used for this, they should be at least orange-colored. Do not use them while they are still totally green.

Again, before you give it a try, be sure to check the manual of your electric blanket about how long it can be left ON safely... and if it has temperature control function, avoid "high."

K & S;
You're welcome.

Rinshinomori said...

Wow, this is very interesting. We just picked too green of kaki from our tree too. My husband was worried that if we let them get more yellow/orange they would be gone - very active squirrels.

Anonymous said...

Hey obachan,

Fabulous pictures over the other blog. The one with shrine crashed away, rocks!

I must say that the Japs are truly wise with utilizing stuff around them.;)


Tindy said...

"Oh? I thought blanket meant the cover that goes over your body, and what you sleep on was called mattress. Hummm... maybe not. "

You've been to America, right? We don't have futon (most places, actually, don't). Our mattresses are big and heavy and don't move, so it would really be silly to warm them up with electricity. So instead, we just have electric blankets.

obachan said...

I've read about some Japanese people doing exactly the same thing as your husband. Japanese squirrels must be pretty active, too.

Thanks for taking a look at the festival photos. I really wish I could get a better zoom lens...

BTW, you are not an American, right?

Got it. :)

debbie said...

Glad someone else answered that question regarding the electric blanket/mattress! Haha I was starting to wonder if there was also such a thing as an electric mattress : )Sorry to hear that you've been feeling stressed out..hope the issue(s) will resolve itself soon enough? Or is it not that easy? As for me, it is a long weekend here so I am looking forward to catching up with some baking!

Meaghan said...

I love kaki, and those look delicious! I've never tried curing the astringency with alcohol, but it's interesting that they taste better to you than ripe ones! Maybe I'll have to try it.

Stardust said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Nope, 脳みそisn't American at any inch. ;) The electric blanket idea got me thinking. I'm trying to figure out how it can help me otherwise. So, thanks for sharing!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin