In this series, we spotlight the boundless potential of a single ingredient.
By Cortney Burns
Chef: Cortney Burns
Job Description: Chef, Author, Herbalist, Flavor seeker
Cooking Aesthetic in 3 Words: Layered, preserved, unbound.
Favorite Savory Ingredient: Celtuce and Harissa
Favorite Sweet Ingredient: Anise and Fermented Honey
Food philosophy: Nourishing others through food is a deep and intimate form of showing love. And through the act of cooking, we are invited to peek inside our soul and pull from the emotions and stories we weave into the dishes. Be present when you cook as emotions are transferred with every stir of the spoon. Stand in gratitude for what you are about to share; for abundance and grace are mirrored in you.
Beauty Mantra: Beauty is the truth, the lessons and the care we put into ourselves. The more we connect with what we need and who we are, the more we pause and allow ourselves to follow our own guiding light, the deeper we nourish our bodies, minds, and soul. Let the center of your plate be rich with rainbows of vegetables raw, cooked, and fermented.
I chose persimmons as they have been deemed a divine fruit. Their bitter and sweet dichotomy speaks to the layers of life and the experiences therein. From a nutritional standpoint, they are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, and anti-inflammatory elements. This jewel of a fruit hangs in balance with the changing of the leaves in mid-autumn. It marks a movement into shorter days and colder nights. The peels can be dried for tea, the leaves of the tree steeped for tisane, and the fruit used in savory and sweet applications. One way to preserve persimmons is to make hoshigaki, an old-world technique of drying the haciya persimmons from Japan. After dried, these persimmons can be stored, steeped, or stuffed in whatever way excites you and satisfies your cravings.
With a paring knife, carefully trim the peel from the top of each fruit by slicing from the outside of the fruit toward the stem and turning the fruit in a circle to score the entire top. Cut a slit in the loose ring, and pull it from the fruits leaving the stem intact. Peel the fruits. Tie each one by its stem to the length of the string. Repeat until all of the fruits are ready to hang. Select a moderately cool space (no warmer than 65°F/18°C) with good ventilation and hang them where they won’t be disturbed. When the surface of the fruits begin to look slightly dry, after 3 to 5 days, gently massage the fruits to coax the sugars to the surface, break down fibers, and eliminate any internal air pockets where mold might grow. Continue massaging the fruits every 3 days until their surface is frosted with a white, sugary bloom. Dry them until they feel like a leather wallet full of cash, about 1 month. Cut the persimmons from their strings and put them on a work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll the fruits to flatten the flesh to an even thickness, further ensuring that there are no air pockets for mold to grow as they are stored. Transfer to an airtight container and store in a cool, dark place.