A quick word to say I am alive, and that autumn is here and so are the persimmons in our backyard. It’s been a super soggy September, wet and muggy with something like 18 typhoons having raged through parts of Japan, and only this week has the chill breeze finally began to rattle the windows of this old house. I am starting to have to think about covering my shoulders! Having grown up in a tropical country, I forget every year how to dress for the changing of the seasons. Today I drank 3 mugs of a hot lemon-turmeric-ginger-black pepper-honey concoction in a bid to ward off an imminent cold. LF thinks this drink sounds a bit white. I’m feeling better so I’m not complaining.
It’s also been a busy autumn and it feels like I’ve barely taken a breath in Kyoto before running away again. Tomorrow brings me to east Hokkaido for one week. It’s been just over a year since I was last that far north. Every other second the speed at which time passes surprises me. It should be old hat by now, and yet.
Being on the road has its costs: for one thing, no time to make jam. Persimmon jam, especially, is a labour-intensive process. You have to love the feeling of pulp on your hands as you remove the seeds. You have to, at the very least, not hate the standing over the stove ensuring that the jam doesn’t burn. You have to enjoy skimming scum – which I do. It’s very satisfying. But god, does it take time. I want desperately a 5 hour block in which to make this jam – from the pulping to the simmering to the canning.
The heavy rains this year also mean that some of the persimmons ripened too quickly before we were able to get to them, and so the harvest this year is smaller than last. This year, persimmon vinegar for the time-strapped. The method comes from Nancy Hachisu’s Preserving the Japanese Way, a magic spellbook of preserved and fermented things I love dipping in and out of for ideas on how to make the seasons last a little longer. She specifies 4kg or so of persimmons, but I simply filled my 5 litre jar and covered it with muslin as instructed, and will leave Ping to stir this mash every 2 days until I’m back from the north next week. The lovely thing about attempting persimmon vinegar is being able to leave it to the elements, and hope that in a few months I will strain some vinegar out of this. Its a crapshoot, since it might go bad and turn into soap, as Nancy warns. But I have some hopes!
After I am back from Hokkaido, some of the remaining persimmons will go into a reprisal of a most fabulous dessert which dear Ping loves: persimmon pudding. I can’t wait.