The Mediterranean persimmon is going through a truly golden age in 2020, in western Turkey's Aydın and the country as a whole, after being pushed aside for years at the bottom of gardens.
The fruit goes by many names, including but not limited to, the Japanese or Oriental persimmon, Trabzon hurması, or cennet hurması, literally meaning date from Trabzon and date from heaven.
Turks often call it "Trabzon hurması," even though it is one of the provinces where the fruit grows only in small numbers. The association comes from the fact that it was through Trabzon this fruit was disseminated throughout Anatolia, after a long journey on the historic Silk Road from mainland China.
The scientific name of this fruit is Diospyros kaki and this apple-sized, orange-colored fruit is best known for its syrupy, sweet taste when picked fresh. However, it seems that this winter, the air-dried form of the fruit has peaked in popularity.
In fact, its price has skyrocketed due to huge demand. In the last three years, a kilogram of dried persimmons has reached TL 100 ($12.71), a rate likened to gold.
Dried or fresh, the fruit is packed full of antioxidants and fiber, and its vitamin A, B and C content makes it a great addition to your diet and boost your immune system. The current pandemic is also thought to have a hand in this rise in demand.
This steep increase has been observed especially in Aydın and primarily its Nazilli district, where most of this fruit is grown, and farmers have not been able to keep up with the demand.
Beyzanur Öztürk, a farmer from the Bozdoğan district of Aydın, said she was happy she could both profit from the fruit and enjoy eating them with her family. This year, they had to buy fresh fruits from other sellers to get them ready for winter because the production couldn't meet the growing demand.
Öztürk explained the difficult process the dried persimmons go through before they are ready for sale.
"We pick, peel, thread and hang them in greenhouses to air dry. Each of these processes has to be completed by hand. We complete these processes (in time) thanks to a special air circulation system we have installed. It provides optimal conditions for drying. After we pick them one by one, we'll finish the last part of the drying process in our cold storage room. Then they will go on sale," she told Ihlas News Agency (IHA).
Öztürk said during her grandparents' time persimmon trees used to be planted only on the very edges of gardens, out of sight. She said it was a welcome surprise to see the demand for the fruit grow.
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