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FOOD : Autumn's Gold Nuggets : Different Preparation Needed for Two Distinct but Equally Beautiful Kinds of Persimmons

October 25, 1987|BETSY BALSLEY | Betsy Balsley is The Times' food editor.

ONE OF THE great joys of fall is to walk into your favorite market and suddenly be confronted with a great heap of brilliant, bright-orange persimmons. They just beg to be taken home and enjoyed.

In recent years persimmon lovers have had a choice of two different types of cultivated persimmons, the Fuyu and the Hachiya.

The Hachiya is probably the more familiar of the two as it has been readily available in this country. Very different from its fellow persimmon, the Fuyu has now begun to make its mark.

Color is no indication of ripeness with the Hachiya. Lantern-shaped with a pointed end, the Hachiya is fully ripe and ready to use only when very, very soft. Otherwise it will be astringent, puckering the mouth of the neophyte persimmon eater. Hachiyas are good choices when one needs a pureed fruit in drinks, muffins or breads.

Shaped much like a bright golden tomato, the Fuyu is more flexible in its uses. Fuyus are ripe when their color turns from green to an all-over pale orange or an eye-catching red-orange. They will still be firm, with an apple-like crispness, and will make wonderful additions to salads, fruit bowls or even sandwiches. Don't refrigerate Fuyus unless they begin to soften; then use them as quickly as possible. The Fuyu can also be pureed when ripe. If you need persimmon pulp and have ripe but still firm Fuyus, one persimmon grower suggests peeling Fuyus by plunging them into boiling water for a few seconds and then removing the peel. Freeze the peeled fruits; when they are removed from the freezer they will be soft enough to puree.

Here are some suggestions for using this bright golden bounty of the fall season.

SPICED POACHED CRISP FUYUS

1 to 1 1/2 pounds Fuyu persimmons, peeled and stems removed

1/2 cup orange juice

cup sugar

cup lemon juice

teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

cup golden raisins

1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Cut persimmons into 1/2-inch wide wedges. Remove seeds. In a 2- to 3-quart saucepan combine persimmons, orange juice, sugar, lemon juice, cinnamon, nutmeg, raisins, orange and lemon peels. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered, until persimmons are tender when pierced, about 25 minutes. Boil, uncovered, over high heat until liquid becomes syrupy, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve at once with chicken or pork or over ice cream. If desired, cooked fruit can be refrigerated, covered, up to 3 days. Reheat if desired. Makes 4 servings.

PERSIMMON ORANGE CHILLER

1 1/2 cups ripe persimmon pulp

1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons white creme de menthe

Vanilla ice cream

Place persimmon pulp, orange juice and creme de menthe in blender container and blend until smooth. Chill and refrigerate until ready to use. Just before serving, blend again. To serve, place a scoop of ice cream in a tall glass and fill with persimmon mixture. Makes 2 to 3 drinks.

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