Endless Variety of Products with Cheongdo Persimmon
Cheongdo, a pristine region located in the southernmost part of North Gyeongsang Province, abounds with persimmon trees. About 20 percent of the total annual persimmon production in Korea comes from there. In the fall, every yard and the foot of every mountain in Cheongdo are tinted orange as the persimmons ripen.
Cheongdo persimmons got the nickname “flat persimmons” because the fruit looks like a round flat plate. They are also famous for having no seeds. The astringent Cheongdo persimmons feature a soft texture, high sugar content, and ample amount of moisture. They used to be sold just after ripening as hongsi (ripe persimmons). But several years ago Cheongdo started offering products using processed astringent persimmons and such products have now become the region’s best-sellers.
Persimmon Cluster Corporation Leads Development of Processed Persimmon Products
The hero behind the evolution of Cheongdo persimmons is the Persimmon Cluster Corporation. It was inaugurated in October, 2009 with the joint investment of Cheongdo County, Sangju City, and Mungyeong City. (All three are major producers of astringent persimmons in Korea.) The following year, the corporation founded Nature Farm which functions as operating headquarters of the enterprise. Nature Farm is equipped with low-temperature storage and mechanized facilities. The advanced equipment enabled it to increase and standardize the production of processed persimmons including dried persimmon slices and half-dried persimmons. Consequently, the enterprise has grown in scale and the sales figure, which was KRW30 million in 2010, increased exponentially to reach KRW5 billion in 2013. The income of the individual persimmon farms has also improved tangibly and the regional persimmon cultivation areas have been expanding 10 percent each year. Let’s take a look at some of Nature Farm’s popular processed persimmon products.
Processed Persimmon Trio Whetting the Appetites of Consumers
▲ Half-Dried Persimmon
This persimmon product retains the original shape of a persimmon and is made by literally semi-drying the fruit. The outer layer is chewy like a fully-dried persimmon, whereas the inner flesh is sweet and soft like that of a ripe persimmon. The only weakness of the product is that it requires frozen distribution. If kept frozen, half-dried persimmons stay fresh for up to one year.
▲ Dried Persimmon Slices
This product is made by slicing a persimmon into four parts and drying the slices to reduce their water content to 45 percent. Thanks to the sweet taste and chewy texture, the slices make a perfect finger food to be served as an accompaniment to alcoholic drinks or as a snack for children. The product can be stored at room temperature for one year.
The half-dried persimmons and dried persimmon slices are made through a process of removing the astringency, or tannin, of a persimmon. The fruits are then peeled and left to dry in a special facility for three to seven days. In lieu of heat, Nature Farm applies pressure to dehydrate the persimmon. As a result, the persimmons retain their original nutrients and high sugar content.
▲ Iced Ripe Persimmon
This is a natural ice-cream made with ripe persimmons. The product contains no additives or harmful substances and is made by quick-freezing a ripe persimmon at -45℃. Del-iciously sweet, it can provide a cooling sensation in the middle of summer.
Fervent Response from Overseas Markets
The enthusiastic response in the domestic market opened the way to exports to Japan. There, processed Cheongdo persimmons have been selling since 2012. Because of the 2011 nuclear accident, fruits cultivated in Fukushima (one of the major persimmon producers in Japan) were prohibited from being sold. In that situation, Japanese buyers turned their eyes to Korean semi-dried persimmons. Mr. Yea Jeong-su, head of the Persimmon Cluster Corp. and CEO of Nature Farm, said that his company has had a hard time adjusting the price of exported persimmons due to a weak yen. Nevertheless, the requests for the exports come in consistently as Cheongdo persimmons have a good reputation for quality. Nature Farm products will thus appear on a Japanese home-shopping channel from March of this year and persimmons in 100g and 60g packages will enter the market.
Currently, the dried persimmon slices are particularly popular in Singapore and Malaysia. A pilot shipment of the iced ripe persimmon was recently made to Thailand and Nature Farm is awaiting the response from the local consumers. Mr. Yea is expecting Europe to be the most promising importer of persimmons in the future. He believes that the dried persimmon slices and the half-dried persimmon will make an excellent dessert for European consumers who like sweets. Mr. Yea pointed out one task to be handled: he will try to develop a method for distributing the persimmon products at room temperature to make export operations smoother.
Take a Note of This!
Do You Know Persimmon Syrup?
Finland is known for xylitol syrup; Canada, for maple syrup; and Mexico is associated with agave syrup. Korea has its own counterpart: persimmon syrup. It is made by extracting natural sugar from persimmon peels. Persimmon syrup is believed to be good for preventing tooth decay because it does not stick to the teeth. The glycemic index (GI) of the syrup is 38, which is very low. In addition, this natural syrup contains a plenitude of minerals such as calcium, sodium, phosphorus, and iron. It is used to make ice cream, gochujang (red pepper paste), jam, yanggaeng (sweet jelly), and beverages. Currently, persimmon syrup is supplied to major Korean food companies including KT&G (Korea Tobacco & Ginseng) and Dongsuh Co. Furthermore, its quality has been recognized overseas as seen in multiple requests made by a large American retailer for large-quantity imports. Currently, persimmon syrup is exported to Australia and the US.
Inquiries Persimmon Cluster Corp. Nature Farm