Time For Persimmons

Autumn is a great time to enjoy permissions, especially Asian permissions:


In Japan, these are called kaki (柿) while in Korea they’re called gam (감). In Japan, they come in two basic types: bitter permissions (渋柿, shibugaki) and sweet permissions (甘柿, amagaki). Usually, trees start by making bitter permissions but through some careful cultivation, trees will start to produce sweet permissions. That’s how I understand the process; I might be mistaken.

Personally, I’ve never had permissions before and neither did my family. When I brought them for Thanksgiving this year, my family were confused and didn’t know what they were, but they liked the taste. The first time I had them, I was a bit hesitant too. Permissions have a nice image in American culture, but they look a bit unusual. The taste is a bit unusual too: it’s not a citrus fruit, but it has a texture like one. Instead the taste is more like a plum or peach, but less sweet.

I enjoy eating them a lot now, and we can buy them cheaply at the nearby Costco.1

However, someone told me recently you shouldn’t eat too many of them. According to traditional Chinese medicine, permissions cool the body down, and if your body is too cold, you can get ill. Also, I have chronic gastritis (胃炎) so I have to be a little careful2 and eat foods that warm the body instead.

So, I eat permissions maybe once a week or so.

1 Costco has a lot more Asian food than it used to. We can get Korean seaweed, permissions and asian pears (梨) easily now, among other things. When I was a kid, the variety was much more limited.

2 Coffee also cools down the body, and I used to drink a lot of coffee. I drink a lot less now, and it helps. Plus, coffee, even decaf, has a lot of acid in it, so I think it was making my gastritis much worse. I drink more Korean corn tea instead which helps a lot.


Author: Doug

A fellow who dwells upon the Pale Blue Dot who spends his days obsessing over things like Buddhism, KPop music, foreign languages, BSD UNIX and science fiction.

9 thoughts on “Time For Persimmons”

  1. They are certainly good. You can get tired of having tangerines all the time in Japan so they are nice break.

    I think the bitter persimmons and sweet persimmons are from different kinds of trees rather than coming from the same tree- or so my wife tells me.

    You can really tell it is winter when the bitter persimmons are hung outside in the cold dry air. After a month or so they become very soft and sweet and much smaller. In some places they have hundreds hanging outside on long racks!


    1. Hi aussie,

      Yeah, I might have the process all confused. I remember something about how a “sweet” permission tree is somehow spliced from a bitter one, or vice-versa. I was hoping that someone with a knack with botany might help clarify the difference. 😉


      1. I had a quick lot at Wikipedia just to be sure and it seems to agree with what I say. There are basically two types here in Japan- the astringent and non- astringent. Under which of are various kinds of “sub-types”.

        You are right how they have a cooling effect and you have to watch for illness after eating them. Thankfully we usually sit under a kotatsu which warms up the body a lot so sharing one persimmon helps to cool the body and isn’t too much.

        I have never eaten one in Australia. They were just a word in the dictionary till I came here.


    1. Hi Julia,

      Yes, people in the US don’t really have much variety of food. For “fruit” we eat apples, oranges, berries and bananas and that’s usually about it. :p


  2. I never even saw a persimmon when I was growing up in the US. In addition to drying the bitter ones, another technique is to soak them in shochu (kind of like vodka) for a while. However, I don’t really like them. My argument: they have no distinctive fragrance or flavor. There is no persimmon ice cream, persimmon soda or persimmon candy. It is just sweetness. It is unusual that they are still edible even when they have ripened to the point of mushiness. That’s kinda cool, but even so, I hardly ever bother with a persimmon. I do like the color, though.


    1. Hi John,

      Yeah, I think you’re on to something: permissions don’t really have a distinctive flavor or fragrance.

      For some reason, I really like the ultra-mild taste though. It’s not suitable for ice-cream and such, but I like the taste/texture for some reason. 🙂


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