‘Kaki’, known as Japanese persimmonW in English is the popular fruit in Japan seen in market fresh from late Autumn till mid December. Infact, it is the latest fresh fruit that comes in the year.
Its name ‘Kaki’ is a Japanese word used internationally because it was exported to Europe in 1789 and to the North America in 1870 from Japan.
This orange coloured fruit is cultivated all over in Japan. The top amount of Kaki production is provided by Wakayama prefecture, followed by Nara and Fukuoka. On the other hand, the top amount of dried Kaki production is provided by Nagano prefecture, followed by Fukuoka and Yamanashi.
It may sound strange that the shipping prefectures of fresh and dried Kaki are different. This is because of the types of Kaki that they produce.
Kaki has more than 1000 species although only about 20 species among them are edible. The edible Kakis are broadly divided in two, ‘Shibu-gaki’ (bitter kaki) and ‘Ama-gaki’ (sweet kaki).
The typical Ama-gaki(sweet kaki) in Japan is called “Fuyu-gaki” which shares 80% of the Ama-gaki production in Japan. Ama-gaki is eaten fresh or used in some Japanese dishes, whereas Shibu-gaki like “Koshu Hyakume” (meaning Koshu=Yamanashi’s 375 grams) are not for frash eating but dry processed or left until very ripe to be eaten. An interesting point of dried Shibu-gaki is that sugar content is higher than that of Ama-gaki, 1.5 times sweet than sugar.
The dried Kaki is called ‘Hoshi-gaki’ in general. There are several types of Hoshi-gaki which differ accoding to the type of Kaki and the drying time. To be specific with the name of the dreid Kakis, the brief time dried Kaki is called ‘Anpo-gaki’, have soft texture and jelly-like texture inside. The long dried Kaki is called ‘Koro-gaki’ or ‘Hoshiki-gaki’ which have sweeter taste like other sorts of dried fruit with chewy texture.
‘Anpo-gaki’ is an early winter delicacy. You can only taste them only in the particular time of the year. Around Tokyo, Yamanashi prefecture provides delicious Anpo-gaki made out from “Koshu Hyakume”. You ought to have a try while you are here at this time of the season! Some are huge over 400g, sweet, soft and juicy.
‘Hoshi-gaki’ (very dried) can be found and bought for longer period.
Not long ago, Kaki trees were grown in many house gardens of Tokyo and other big cities in Japan. You can still see many Kaki trees if you go into the countryside. Kaki trees grown in the garden are/were good snack tree in the season for the kids though not all the Kaki trees in the garden brought sweet Kaki fruits, it was one of the housewives’ job to make Hoshi-gaki in the season. You can see the Kaki drying under roof of house frontage still in the countryside, a typical early Winter scenery of Japan.