Korean Food : Why is Korean Persimmon so Special?

When I think of " A autumn scenery in Korea",

                                                                  I definitely come up with this.

This is a Gam 감 tree. Do you happen to know what the Gam is? No clue? Someone might think it looks like a Persimmon tree or Kaki tree. I would say yes and also no. Because I believe that Korean Gam is different from other persimmons around the world.

For the one who does not know what the persimmon is, I give you brief introduction of this, but by supported by Mr.wikipedia. Before meeting him, I should inform you of the saddest fact about the name of the variety. Yes, feeling sorry for our Korean Gam, it is classified as a Japanese persimmon by Mr.Wiki. Haha. But In case of your curiousity, I give you Gam info through this.  

Japanese persimmon

Diospyros kaki, better known as the Japanese Persimmon, Kaki Persimmon (kaki [
]) or Asian Persimmon in North America, is the most widely cultivated species of the Diospyros genus. Although its first published botanical description was not until 1780, the kaki is also among the oldest plants in cultivation, known for its use in China for more than 2000 years.

  The persimmon (kaki) is a sweet, slightly tangy fruit with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture. This species, native to China, is deciduous, with broad, stiff leaves. Cultivation of the fruit extended first to other parts of east Asia, and was later introduced to California and southern Europe in the 19th century, to Brazil in the 1890s, and numerous cultivars have been selected. A variety is Diospyros kaki var. sylvestris Makino.

You could not have eaten Gam (Korean persimmon) throughout your life, but it is not that surprising to me. Because 90% of the production of Kaki are made from East Asia ; China, Japan and Korea. I do recommend you try to taste these sweeties in fall. The Gam usually gets harvested between October and November, so it is proper season to try it.  

persimmon tree

                                                    <a persimmon tree in Tomong's>

I have two Gam trees at home. I used to break the branches with some ripe Gam on in autumn and bring them to my school to decorate my classroom. I got some compliment from my teacher that I brought the autumn atmosphere to my classmates. I tended to feel proud of my Gam branches.
In my village, especially my neighborhood, some houses have Gam trees and they distribute or exchange Gams to neighbor to express their affection to each other. Still, they do and I appreciate that. As you can see here, I do have a number of memories with Gam since I was young. If your Korean friends live in the suburb or has relatives living there, they might have some stories or memories about Gam. Because In the southern rural areas in Korea, It is not that rare to have persimmon trees in the garden.  

Major Varieties of Persimmon

Korea has three major varieties of persimmon ; there might be more than 20 varieties but they do not account much, so I just omit them. 

 Fuyu persimmons (DanGam 단감) : distinguished by their "flat" bottoms and squat shape. Fuyus should be more orange then yellow and are at their best when just barely a teensy bit soft. They will ripen after picked, so buying rock-hard fuyus and allowing them to ripen at home can be a good strategy. Fuyus are commonly eaten raw, often sliced and peeled and salads. They have a mild, pumpkin-like flavor.

Hachiya persimmons (Hongsi 홍시) : mouth-puckeringly tart unless absolutely, supremely ripe. Ripe hachiyas are unbelievably soft - and are often almost liquified into a silky smooth pulp inside. They are elongated and oval shaped. They will ripen once picked, so you can let them soften on the kitchen counter until ready to use.

Bansi 반시 : One of the most famous products among the delicious Hongsi, the fully mellowed ripe persimmons is a seedless, flat Hongsi called Bansi.

For the nutiritional facts, it  is recommendable to eat the Gam. It contains sufficient amount of vitamin A, C, also high in fiber and other numerous health-benefits. They are used as the remedy for stomach ailments and diarrhea. It also lowers the blood pressure and relieve a cough.

Chungdo(Cheongdo), Gyeoungsang province

When you travel to Korea or try to stay long in Korea, I tell you to visit Chungdo(Cheongdo), Gyeoungsang province. It is the one of the two well-known local areas, the other is Sangju. Chung do flat persimmon takes up about 20% of the national persimmon production amount.

Chungdo is famous for Bansi 반시 named after the shape of portable dining table; Ban in Korean. You can see hundreds or thousands of Gam trees on the street while driving, riding or walking in Cheongdo. Especially when those trees combine with korean traditional country-houses, it creat heavenly beatiful natural scenery. Moreover with the red and yellow leaves of maple and Ginko trees, it bangs your heart. You must not miss it if you stay in Korea in the month of October and November.

Chungdo Gam tries to differentiate their products from other places and make the Gam brand. To creat something new, they made diverse version of Gam, such as a Iced Hongsi called Gamdong. 

<Iced Hongsi , Gamdong ; produced by Gamnaru >

Why is Korean Persimmon so speacial?

The taste is the best. As there exist hundreds cultivars of persimmon and all have different tastes and textures. Above them, Korean persimmon as loved fruit among Koreans has been improved and developed to a valued producted. Korean proudly show our persimmon to world market. It recieved pretty good attention from the world.

Also, it goes with Korean life. I live on the Korean home and streets, also stay alive within Koreans' memories. You can have pretty good story-nibblings with Korean friends while eating them. You also can hear Korean say the life is so bitter like an astrigent persimmon  or so sweet like Fuyu(Dangam) or Hashiya(Hongsi) persimmon.

If you want to taste one piece of Korean life-going
                                               you must try Korean persimmon.


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Posted by Food Storyist

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