Dried persimmons from a fruit vendor near Millak Waterfront Park. Busan, South Korea. © Matt Lemon Photography. All Rights Reserved.
Persimmons are very popular in South Korea and sold fresh, semi-dried, dried or frozen. The two varieties grown in South Korea are called 홍시 hongsi (also known by their Japanese name hachiya) and 단감 dangam (or fuyu). Hongsi are oval-shaped and have a tart flavour unless absolutely ripe, and only then should they be eaten. Once ripened, they are not only sweet but also very soft, up to the point where the pulp is almost liquid. Dangam are round and, like hongsi, have a tart flavour. They can either be eaten when they are still somewhat firm or when they are soft.
청도군 Cheongdo County in 경상북도 North Gyeongsang Province is particular famous for its persimmons. On the local government’s website, you can see a variety of persimmon products. I particularly like the frozen ones, which make for a healthy alternative to ice cream. Persimmons are also used to make 수정과 sujeonggwa, a traditional fruit punch made from dried persimmons, cinnamon, and ginger, often garnished with pine nuts. (See Cinnamon – Matt Lemon Photography.)
I tried to find a nice video to show the process of how persimmons are dried but couldn’t find one I particularly liked. I did find an amateur video without explanations (but with corny music) and a video by Arirang TV with explanations (but also with a superfluous foreign guest).
Compared to apples, persimmons have higher levels of dietary fibre, sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron and manganese, but lower levels of copper and zinc. They also contain vitamin C and provitamin A beta-carotene. One can find several health benefits attributed to persimmons, such as curing stomach ailments or lowering blood pressure, but that’s not my expertise. For some reason, I found it particularly difficult to find well-presented information about Korean persimmons. If you know of a great food blog or video with information, please leave a comment below.