Tosh and Chris Kuratomi of Otow Orchard
in Granite Bay, California in the Sacramento Valley farm lots of trees. Lots and lots of trees. Olives, pears, plums, citrus, walnuts, pomegranates, kiwis, and their famous peaches and persimmons. The farm is beautiful, the fruits are delicious, and the Kuratomis seem to smile a lot.
Peaches That Cause a Traffic Jam:
"So many people come in the summer for peaches," says Tosh, "that we have to direct traffic in and out of the drive. But the people who come for peaches, don't come for persimmons. And all the people who come for persimmons, I never see them here for peaches."
Tosh and Chris grow several varieties of each, and sell plenty of other fruit and some vegetables alongside at their farm stand. He exaggerates, of course, because plenty of local chefs know all about Otow peaches and persimmons. Not to mention all the other fresh, local produce the farm grows.
More Than Two:
Most people, according to Tosh, think there are two kinds of persimmons
: the eating kind and the baking kind. That's a start, he'll admit, but hardly the end of persimmon varieties. The orchard goes beyond fuyu and hachiya, including maru (also known as "chocolate") and hyakume ("cinnamon"). Then there are those he makes.
Tosh treats some hyakumes with vodka. He puts a couple drops around their stem and stores them air-tight for a week. The result is a sweeter, more balanced fruit that is well worth a week's wait.
Hoshigaki, Japanese-Style Dried Persimmons:
Hoshigaki are dried persimmons, and a specialty at Otow Orchard. Not just dried--they are painstakingly sun-dried, air-cooled, and hand-massaged to bring their sugars to the surface. The process results in a mellow, luscious, surprisingly not-overly-sweet concoction that is a Japanese delicacy.
Feed the Hungry:
One day the Kuratomis realized they had a mission statement: Feed the Hungry. Not only do they give tons (literally) of food away to local programs, they offer a reduced rate on fruit for people baking for charities. They are always on the lookout for local connections, to help their community, to form relationships with those around them. Working with local restaurants, local wineries, and other farmers gives their work meaning beyond all the trees they tend. The hungry, to the Kuratomis, may begin with those in financial need, but ends up extending to everyone around them.
Try Some Now:
To try hoshigaki
for yourself, order directly from Otow Orchard