There are a lot of fruit which either originated or grew to be characteristic of Japan.
I’m trying to introduce into this new series to help my vegan and vegetarian (I’m no) friends in particular as fruit can be adapted into so many ways!
Jirou kaki or Jirou Persimmons are not to be confused with “normal persimmons”, or heart-shaped Hachiya which is the most common variety of astringent persimmon. Astringent persimmons contain very high levels of soluble tannins and are unpalatable if eaten before softening.
The astringency of tannins is removed through ripening by exposure to light over several days, wrapping the fruit in paper for heating it, and/or artificially with chemicals such as alcohol and carbon dioxide which change tannin into the insoluble form. This bletting process is sometimes jumpstarted by exposing the fruit to cold or frost which hastens cellular wall breakdown. These astringent persimmons can also be prepared for commercial purposes by drying.
The non-astringent persimmon, or Jirou kaki, is squat like a tomato and is most commonly sold as fuyu. Non-astringent persimmons are not actually free of tannins as the term suggests, but rather are far less astringent before ripening, and lose more of their tannic quality sooner. Non-astringent persimmons may be consumed when still very firm to very very soft.
Dried Jirou Persimmon
Actually, Jirou Kaki/Jirou Persimmons are the pride of our Prefecture, Shizuoka Prefecture, as they were first grown in 1844 by a farmer called Jiroushi Matsumoto in Mori-Cho, Western Shizuoka Prefecture!
Their trees were finally successfully raised in 1869.
Jirou Persimmon Jam
The persimmons were finally given their name, Jirou Kaki, by the Emperor of Japan upon his meeting with Fujitarou Suzuki (the grower of that time) in Mori-Cho where a Shinto Temple is still dedicated to the Emperor of Japan.
In Shizuoka Prefecture, Jirou Persimmon are found under many guises such as cakes (above)
Jirou Persimmon wine!
Jirou Persimmon vinegar, a rarity created by Bembei Kawamura, the Father of Shizuoka Sake!
It can drunk as a health drink mixed with with good wateror used as a finish on many dishes!
Although I personally like them fresh either as dessert or in salads with vegetables, my favourite is dried persimmons, a big business in Shizuoka Prefecture!