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Monday Market – The Intricasies of Persimmon – 감

Posted in Uncategorized by 노강호 on November 3, 2010

 

persimmon tree

You know the cold weather is well on its way when the various nuts and persimmon begin to appear in markets. Persimmon (감) appears in several varieties both astringent and non-astringent. The non-astringent variety is eaten hard, almost the same hardness as an apple, and the the astringent variety can only be eaten in a soft and pulpy state.

The harder, non-astringent variety is known as dan-kam (단감) and it is the smaller and rounder of varieties which is a much lighter orange often with a tint of green. At first glance it often resembles a slightly unripened, large tomato.

dan-kam 단감 persimmon

as dan-kam often appear in supermarkets

Hong-shi (홍시), are a much larger variety and a little heart shaped and they vary in softness between a ripe tomato and a very soft bag of jelly.

a hong-shi (홍시) persimmon, bright orange, large and heart shaped

Another soft variety, almost identical in taste and texture to the hong-shi, is the yeon-shi (연시). This is similar in shape to the dan-kam but much darker, brighter orange and soft.

yeon-shi 연시 similar in size to the dan-kam but eaten soft

Yeon-shi and hong-shi are very sweet and in their ripest state, resembling a bag of jelly, need to be transported with care as they burst very easily. Both types are perfect for freezing, losing non of their sweetness and I have had no problem keeping them well into spring. What flavour they do have is very mild but their jam-like innards are enjoyable.

an abundance of market yeon-shi. (The universality of green grocer's spelling; unless mistaken, these are not hong-shi and further, 'shi' is spelt incorrectly.

G’ot-kam (곶감) is  a different astringent variety again and is usually dried. The fruits are often left hanging on trees to be bleeted by the first frosts which speeds up the ripening process prior to drying.They are quite delicious and similar to dried apricots.

got-kam 곶감

To confuse matters further, both hong-shi and yeon-shi can be bought unripened but they are not pleasant to eat and may cause stomach blockages (phytobezoars). In the unripened state they are known as daeng-kam (땡감) and should be allowed to ripen which can even take place at room temperature (around 20 degrees).

Persimmon Uses

Dan-kam is cut and eaten like an apple while softer versions can be  cut as you would a boiled egg and scooped out. In Korea, you are privileged to buy persimmons that are super ripe and I quite like to simply puncture the skin and suck the innards out. It is a very enjoyable experience especially if the fruit is chilled.

 

persimmon sorbet (Independent UK)

You can also find persimmon sorbet and many some cafes serve hong-shi / yeon-shi smoothies which are quite delicious.

A Korean non-alcoholic drink is based on persimmon,

su-cheong-gwha

And then there is persimmon vinegar (감식초) which is what is known as a ‘drinking vinegar’ the drinking of which is seen as health promoting (Link on Korean ‘drinking vinegar).

persimmon vinegar (감식초)

Persimmon leaf tea (감잎차)

persimmon leaf tea

Some Interesting Persimmon Facts

♦Eating unripened persimmons causes 82% of the cases of phytobezoars, these being abdominal obstructions caused by ingested matter. Unripe perssimmons contain high amounts of the tannin shibuol which on contact with weak gastic acids polymerizes, thus causing an obstruction. Phytobezoar epidemics occur in areas where persimmons are grown and though surgery has sometimes been required to remove them, depolymerization is effected by drinking coca-cola. (see Wikipedia).

♦Recently, persimmon wood, related to ebony, has been used by by bowmen in the traditional manufacture of longbows.

♦Originally, persimmon wood was used to manufacture the highest quality golfing ‘woods’ before being largely replaced by ones made of metal.

♦A persimmon fruit is technically a ‘ true berry.’

♦Sharon Fruit is a trade name for the D. Kaki variety of persimmon which is ripened via chemicals. The Daily Mail article linked below gives some suggestions on using this but in the UK I have found this fruit quite expensive and unpleasant. Leaving the fruit to become soft didn’t seem to work and given they were the size of an egg,  no substitute for soft persimmon. Sharon Fruit is definitely an ersatz version of  persimmon.

♦And yet another fruit claimed to ward of heart attack. According to the Daily Mail (link below), Sharon Fruit can prevent clotted arteries. However, I’m skeptical as the research was carried out by Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and of course, the fruit is grown in this area.

Creative Commons License

© 林東哲 2010 Creative Commons Licence.

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7 Responses

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  1. Breda said, on November 3, 2010 at 6:43 am

    Wow I never knew the round kind had two different varities. Also, have you ever had a frozen one? I don’t mean ice cream I mean frozen and vacuum-sealed. We had them once at school and it was the best thing–I’d love to buy some.

    • Nick said, on November 3, 2010 at 1:00 pm

      I’ve never seen ones vacuum-sealed though I have seen them frozen. I will have to keep an eye open for them. Thanks

  2. Chris Walker-Bush said, on November 3, 2010 at 1:23 pm

    I now know more about persimmons than I ever thought I would need to. Interesting… >_>

    • Nick said, on November 3, 2010 at 1:33 pm

      Thanks. It actually took a bit of work amassing some of the information as a number of terms aren’t in dictionaries.

  3. Unctuous Jones said, on November 4, 2010 at 5:25 am

    I love hard persimmons. I had one today in fact. These ones are called Fuyus here in the states. They are always a flattened rather then spherical, and quite hard, between the hardness of an apple and a carrot. Offhand I can’t think of any fruit or vegetable I won’t eat, save the soft persimmon. Its texture makes my skin crawl.

  4. Deb said, on November 6, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    If you are in the US, you can get sipping vinegar, or drinking vinegar, from http://www.sageandseafarms.com. No persimmon, but everything from ginger to strawberry to grapefruit!

    • Nick said, on November 6, 2010 at 2:48 pm

      Deb, thanks for this information.


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