Have you tried KORO GAKI?

Have you tried KORO GAKI?

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History

KORO GAKI is one of the oldest preserved foods that have been made and eaten for a long time in Japan. This confection is handmade, using traditional methods.

These persimmons are produced in Ujitawara, where Hibiki-an is located. This area is famous for Uji tea, and KORO GAKI have long been made as a side job for tea farmers during the off-season.

Persimmons have been cultivated to protect tea trees from frost and to obtain KAKI SHIBU, persimmon tannins. KAKI SHIBU is used to coat WASHI, Japanese paper, used in tea processing tools and various agricultural tools.

KORO GAKI have been served at tea ceremony since ancient times. They are the perfect snack to enjoy with Japanese tea. Today, KORO GAKI are often served at RYOTEI, luxury restaurants.

  • Persimmons look like an orange carpet.

  • Box that has been used for many years.

  • a tool implement for farming.

Production Process - (1) Assembling KAKIYA

KAKIYA, shelves with a canopy, are built by farmers in the rice fields after the harvesting season. The KAKIYA looks like a big tower with a canopy. The canopy is made of straw and set on a wooden frame, and the floor is made of bamboo. Therefore, there is no risk of being blown away by strong winds. The size of the KAKIYA shelves depends on how many persimmons will be dried. The size of the KAKIYA shelves where our KORO GAKI are made is huge. It is 10m (32.8ft) high, 12m (39.4ft) long, and 2.5m (8.2ft) wide with 6 layers. It takes two people five days to assemble.
Since KAKIYA shelves are used only two months per year, the straw, bamboo and wooden frame are dismantled after use, and saved for the next year. The KAKIYA shelves are used over and over for many years.

  • KAKIYA shelves with 6 layers.

  • If you compare it to a car, you can see how big it is.

  • The higher the assembly, the better the ventilation.

  • Built up higher than a roof.

  • Use fans for the lowest layer that is not well ventilated.

  • Up close, it's overwhelming.

  • The floor is constructed of bamboo for good ventilation.

  • The straws, bamboos and wooden frames are dismantled after use.

(2) Harvest

KORO GAKI are made from a small astringent persimmon called TSURUNOKO. On average, each tree yields about 100kg (220.46lb) of persimmons. The farmer who produces our KORO GAKI harvests 8 to 10 tons of persimmons every year and processes 1.5 to 2 tons of KORO GAKI.

Harvesting is very hard work. The farmer climbs up each tree to pick the persimmons. Around 100 to 150 kg of persimmons are harvested and sorted per person in one day.

Ripe persimmons taste better when processed. However, if they are too ripe, they will be crushed during the rolling process. Therefore, the timing of harvesting is important.

TSURUNOKO persimmons are a specialty product of Ujitawara, Japan and are harvested from mid to late November each year, with many of them being processed as KORO GAKI.

  • Persimmons turn bright orange in autumn.

  • A ladder is used for harvesting in high places.

  • Sorting is also done during harvest.

  • Harvesting from dozens of trees.

  • Carefully pick persimmons from the end of a tree.

  • About 100 kg worth of persimmons from one tree.

  • Remove branches and leaves.

  • Carried in baskets.

  • Carrying dozens of boxes of persimmons.

(3) Peeling

After the harvest, the calyx of each persimmon is removed by hand. Then the persimmons are peeled by machine and by hand.

Each persimmon is placed on a needle that is attached to the machine, which spins the persimmon. The machine is powered by a foot pedal. The persimmon is peeled by placing the peeler on the spinning persimmon. It looks easy, but it requires a practiced skill.

This machine has been in use for about 40 years. One person can peel approximately 100kg (220.46lb) of persimmons per day. In the past, the peeling was done entirely by hand, so it took more than 10 times longer.

  • The calyx of each persimmon is removed.

  • Each persimmon is placed on a needle.

  • Peeled by placing the peeler on the spinning persimmon.

  • When the peeling is finished, step on another pedal.

  • The persimmons are pushed out.

  • It goes in the box.

  • Keep working on the box until it is full.

  • Job Diary

  • The calyx and peels are used as fertilizer.

(4) Drying

After the persimmons are peeled, they are carefully arranged on KAKIYA shelves and dried under the sun. A lift is used to line up the upper level. Approximately 1 ton of persimmons are placed on each layer.

The most important part of this process is to keep the persimmons dry. It is extremely important to avoid getting them wet in the rain. The persimmons are checked frequently while they are drying. This requires practiced skill to know how each persimmon should look and feel during each stage of the drying process.This is very difficult work, which involves climbing a high KAKIYA and bending over for long periods of time.

The persimmons are dried for about 2 to 3 weeks. After they are dried to a certain degree, they are put in wooden boxes and taken down from the KAKIYA shelves mainly by lift. They used to be taken down from the KAKIYA using pulleys, which took 8 to 10 times longer.

  • Approximately 1 ton of persimmons are placed on each layer.

  • Touch persimmons with hands to check for dryness.

  • Bamboo and netting for excellent ventilation

  • Bending over for long periods of time.

  • Work in high places with care.

  • In the old days, pulleys was used to unload persimmons.

(5) Rolling

The persimmons are spread out on a straw mat. They are then rolled to make them dry evenly and soften.

In the past, persimmons were winnowed and rolled around 100 times per batch by hand every day. With 40 to 50 batches per day, it was quite an arduous task.
Today, the persimmons are rolled by machine. Approximately 6kg (13.23lb) of persimmons are rolled at a time, taking 3 to 5 minutes. This machine was developed about 30 years ago, around 1990, and has led to a significant reduction in the burden on farmers.

If the persimmons are rolled too much, they will be damaged. On the other hand, if they are rolled too little, the white powder, which is the persimmon's natural fructose, will not crystallize on the surface. This can cause the persimmons to be less sweet. Farmers carefully watch the condition of the persimmons while rolling. The moment the rolling is finished and the persimmons are removed from the machine, there is a unique pleasant aroma created by the harmony of sun, straw and fruit.

At night, the temperature drops and frost forms easily, so this process is finished in the evening and the persimmons are covered with a straw mat. By covering with a straw mat, the moisture containing natural fructose inside the persimmon is released during the night. This process further dries the persimmons.

This process continues for about 1 to 2 weeks. As the drying process progresses, the size of the persimmon is reduced to 1/4 to 1/5 of what it was before drying. When the white fructose powder begins to appear on the surface of the persimmon, the KORO GAKI are finished. The final weight is only 20-25% of the original weight.

  • Spread out on a straw mat.(Pictures from the sky)

  • Gather persimmons in the same dry state.

  • Put persimmons into a machine in order.

  • A simple but innovative machine that have helped farmers.

  • A unique and pleasant aroma spreads around.

  • Repeating the process produces white powder.

  • Persimmons are brought indoors before it gets cold.

  • Persimmons are covered with a straw mat.

Farmer - Masashi Moriguchi

Masashi Moriguchi was born in 1983. He comes from a tea farming family that has been in existence for generations. After graduating from high school in Kyoto, he worked for a year at the Tea Industry Research Division and studied at the National Farmers Academy in Tokyo.
He has won numerous awards at tea competitions. Along with tea, he has mastered the traditional method of KORO GAKI making. The KORO GAKI that he produces have won awards for many years, so he is known as a KORO GAKI master.

  • Persimmons are planted near these tea farms.

  • He can tell how dry the persimmons are by the surface temperature.

  • Awarded at competitions.

  • His father is still active.

  • It's been going on for generations.

KORO GAKI - Dried Persimmon

KORO GAKI is a confection made from persimmon, a beautiful orange fruit harvested in autumn and winter in Japan. What makes this confection unique is the fact that it is made using only persimmon, and no other ingredients. The texture is plump and just a little bit tough. As you chew, the natural, elegant sweetness gradually increases. The flavor and texture are completely different from non-dried persimmon. (Please note that there are small seeds inside.)

Surprisingly, before drying, the breed of persimmons used for KORO GAKI are inedible as they are too astringent. However, through the process of drying, the astringent Tannins are removed and the sweetness is strongly brought out. The white powder on the surface is the persimmon's natural fructose, which has crystallized during drying.
Drying not only eliminates bitterness, but also greatly increases dietary fiber, β-carotene, and minerals such as potassium and manganese compared to raw persimmon.

[Limited] KORO GAKI US$19.50
KORO GAKI is one of the oldest preserved foods that have been made and eaten for a long time in Japan. It is a confection made from persimmon, a beautiful orange fruit harvested in autumn and winter.