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Autumn Fruits on Winter Trees

Posted in Art, Nature, plants and trees, seasons by 노강호 on January 15, 2012

A persimmon tree in snow. (Geumsansa Temple, Gimje, Jeollabuk-do. Source – KTO)

I was recently out of the city, in Jeollanam-do, on a wintry coastline that was especially decorated with both persimmon and ginkgo trees. I’ve written numerous posts focusing on one aspect or another of persimmons and have intended over two years to write a post dedicated to the ginkgo. Seeing the ginkgo (은행) and persimmon (감) in a winter setting, when void of leaves yet still bearing their autumn fruit, evoked images of the Korean and possibly Japanese and Chinese, traditional paintings I’d seen over the years but never really appreciated. A persimmon in the depth of winter which still carries its bright orange flames of fruit, especially against a cold and bleak backdrop, is a beautiful sight. The ginkgo, though perhaps not as noticeable, nonetheless has the capacity to intrigue us with it busy array of nuts. The Ginkgo is an amazing tree which can grow to a considerable size and in autumn, with its bright yellow foliage, it is a wonderful sight.   Then there is the schizandra tree (오미자), the bright red berries of which are current feature in markets.

‘Persimmons’ by Nam Jun.

winter persimmons – unknown

a large ginkgo in summer

An autumn ginkgo

winter ginkgo

a schizandra tree in winter (오미자)

Korean traditional art

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Monday Market – Persimmons (연시 – 홍시)

Posted in Food and Drink, fruit, Monday Market (Theme), seasons by 노강호 on November 16, 2011

'yeon-shi,' one of my favourite autumn fruits

I’ve written several times about the persimmon which in Korea, like the octopus, has three different names depending characteristics. For some reason ‘3’ always seems to be associated with food though I’m sure it’s coincidence. You’re supposed to wash cabbages three times after salting and I was taught to rinse rice three times before cooking. I took this photo a month ago as the first flush of soft persimmon, known as ‘yeson-shi’, appeared in the market. I love this type of persimmon and several years ago built a stock-pile in my freezer which lasted into mid spring. Actually, I ended up so tired of them I hardly bought any the following year.  Now I want to eat them but unfortunately am restricted by my diet. However, I couldn’t resist buying some just to photograph. The first flush of yeon-shi are particularity delicate and beautiful but their colour quickly changes as autumn progresses.

very similar to the slightly larger and more heart-shaped 'hong-shi.'

persimmons hanging on local trees

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Related articles

The Intricacies of Persimmon (Bathhouse Ballads Nov 2010)

Interlude – Soft Persimmons (Bathhouse Ballads Oct 2010)

They mystery of the persimmons (militaryzerowaste.wordpress.com)

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.

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Interlude (1) – 홍시 – Soft Persimmon

Posted in Interlude (Theme), Korean language by 노강호 on October 24, 2010

They’re like a bright orange bag of jelly, the shape of a tennis ball and although they’re relatively tasteless, basically just very sweet, there is something pleasant about them. Like a number of Korean foods, the most noted probably being octopus, one ‘product’ can have several different names rather like the English ‘grape,’ when dried, can be a ‘currant,’ ‘raisin,’ or ‘sultana.’   While persimmons, are  generally called, ‘kam’ ( 감), the specific name for the highly ripened variety is, ‘hong-shi’ ( 홍시).  ‘Yeon-shi’ (연씨) is a similar soft variety but smaller and rounder.

'hong-shi; - like a bag of jelly

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Monday Market – Groundnuts (땅콩)

Posted in Diary notes, fruit, seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on October 4, 2010

Groundnuts

The ‘fruits’ which epitomize autumn are peanuts, pumpkins, persimmon, apples and the Chinese or Napa cabbage of which there is currently a shortage. In the last week peanuts have become very prolific in street markets. They are somewhat unlike the monkeynuts (ground nuts) you buy in the UK in that they are still moist and have an earthy taste to them. Koreans often boil them for a few minutes, un-shelled, after which they taste much nicer. In this state they can be frozen. I still have a few in my freezer from last year though I do not know how long they safely keep.

Groundnuts at 4000 Won a boxful (sterling - 2 pounds)

Peanuts and pumpkins

Winter – Monday Market

Posted in Food and Drink, fruit, Monday Market (Theme), seasons, vegetables by 노강호 on December 13, 2009

I intended making a visual collection of seasonal fruit and vegetables as they appear and was going to start this in spring, I decided to start earlier.

Persimmon (홍시)

Persimmon (also known as Sharon Fruit. 감, 땡감, 반시, 홍시/연시,꽃감.) Early December and the Persimmon season is over but these ones I bought a few weeks ago. Currently I have around 60 Persimmon in my freezer. Persimmon is called Kam and like the octopus, there are three types each called by a different name which can be confusing. Kam range from hard to very, very soft. If you like sweet and gooey you’ll love the hongshi, sometimes spelt yonshi. This is the softest persimmon and appears in late summer to early winter. It is very delicate, like a fragile bag of water. Unlike the other types of persimmon, which I don’t eat often, these can be easily frozen. They are delicious cold,  simply slice the skin and squeeze and scoop out the jam-like innards. Some coffee shops serve hongshi smoothie. You can also buy dried persimmon, rather like dried apricots but with less flavour. I’m told persimmon is quite high in calories – which is usual as anything delicious tends to be calorie laden.

Oriental quince. (모과)

The Oriental Quince  (Moghwa. 모과) , is used for its fragrance which is slightly appleley. It has a waxy skin. They do scent small areas like cars and small rooms but unless you dangle them under your nose, they’re pretty useless in larger spaces – but they look good. Moghwa appear in late summer and early winter. Make sure there are no small holes in them as these will contain worms. I had one with a small hole which were  fruit flies front door, a piece of gum blocked future access and entombed any inhabitants. If you turn the fruit regularly it should keep into the spring. The moghwa  is used in oriental medicine and can be used to make tea.

Daegu, famous for its apples (사과)

Apples. (사과) I live in Daegu which is renowned for apples and Daegu apples are truly delicious. In England, I rarely eat apples partly as there are so many varieties I never know which ones I like and because they can never be relied upon to be tasty. I suppose the variations in British weather result in fruit which can be sweet  one moment and sour the next. Daegu apples are never sour and they are never fluffy or soft. Some are truly massive in proportions. Recently, a Korean teenager told me that had Snow White been Korean, she wouldn’t have died because Koreans always peel the skin off apples and pears. (and the witch, so he said, put the poison on the skin). In England we tend to wash them, if we can be bothered, and eat them with the skin on – a habit many Koreans find odd.

Cabbages (배추)

My God! I nearly forgot the most important seasonal product of all… The Cabbage – usually called a paech’u (배추) As with most imported fruits and vegetables which I might buy back home, the Chinese Cabbage ( which I think is a pak choy – or maybe its a bok choy???), is a piddly little thing which usually sits in the palm of your hand, is almost pure white and has no green leaves and cost W2000. In Korea when the cabbage season is at its peak, some are colossal in size and this week in the market they cost around W1000 each which is about 50 pence  in sterling. Two will make me enough kimchi for several months. Check inner leaves for signs of caterpillar.

An occasional site, especially in more rural areas, are large vats of paech’u being salted ready for making kimchi. Indeed, in street markets at this time of year you can buy kimchi which has already been soaked in salted water.

Salted cabbages in Cheonan

My Winter 2009 kimchi (배추 김치)

Paech’u after being salted and pasted with kimchi paste. Yes, it looks like something from a road accident but it tasted delicious!

persimmon – 감, hard – 땡감, between soft and very soft -반시, very soft – 홍시 or 연시, and dried – 꽃감.  Oriental Quince (moghwa) – 모과, apple – 사과,  Chinese cabbage – 배추.

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