What a totally cool item – good job Trader Joe’s! Four frozen (frozen!) tiny, whole persimmons served straight to you from Korea. Even with your history of craziness, that was an unexpected move, TJ. Nothing could have called out to me more – a tiny, dark box, sitting next to the ice cream as if it were no big deal, a total mystery even as it plainly stated that it was, in fact, 4 dried whole persimmons. It’s the sort of boldly simple statement that’s impossible to let slide – like a man who walks up to you on the street and says he can eat his own fist. What does that mean? Why are you even here? Unable to resist the pull, I took the mystery box home to investigate.
With such a straightforward title as Trader Joe’s 4 Dried Whole Persimmons you would think no one should be surprised by what they’re going to get. And yet I was more surprised by this product than I’ve ever been by anything at Trader Joe’s. I’ve covered persimmons before – I delved into the ins, the outs, and the evocative poetry of the fruit when I covered them here. Before opening the box, that’s exactly what I was expecting – four mushed up, wrinkled and brown hachiya persimmons, served cold. What I got were tiny works of art. Check these out:
Examine that delicate whiteness tracing the edges of the fruit – since these were just taken from the freezer you might expect that to be frost. It’s not though, it’s actually the fruit’s own crystallized sugar, extruded through the skin during the long drying process and carefully preserved.
The delicacy of the dried, whole persimmon is known as gotgam in Korea and by other names in China, Japan and Vietnam. What everyone can agree on is that they’re a delicious, sweet treat. Trader Joe’s, in their continual bid for excellence, has sourced these persimmons directly from the green rolling hills of Gyeongbuk, South Korea where they are harvested each fall and then immediately dried and frozen. The drying part is common world wide – it’s the freezing part that’s uniquely Korean. Functionally meant as a way to preserve the sugary, moist fruit for the long term, it also makes for a unique way to cool down in the summer heat with a totally natural treat.
Although I’m a big fan of this strange item on the grounds of it’s unusual nature alone, there’s less I can say about the taste. Despite being frozen, these dried persimmons taste just like any other dried persimmon. Their beautiful exteriors don’t do anything to change that wonderful sweet and mealy persimmon taste of sweet potato, pumpkin and brown sugar. This isn’t a bad thing, I like the taste of persimmon, but it doesn’t really make a case for the exotic freezing, high price ($3.99 for four persimmons), or TJ’s breathless product copy.
The value of this item comes from the mystique surrounding it. If you can produce your fancy box of frozen persimmons to a few choice friends (or kids), read off the box copy (“made from the perfectly ripe hachiya persimmons of Gyeongbuk”), and pass around the gorgeous treats you’ll make a memory. Beyond that, there isn’t much difference between these and any other dried persimmon you may choose.
Would I Recommend Them: Yes, if you’re a persimmon fan looking for a single memorable experience or a Korean ex-pat.
Would I Buy Them Again: The appeal of these is primarily in their novelty, so no.
Final Synopsis: Like regular dried persimmons, but colder.