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Farmers market report: Persimmons are in season. We have recipes

Farmers market report: Persimmons are in season. We have recipes
Fuyu persimmons at the Hollywood farmers market. (Noelle Carter / Los Angeles Times)

What's in season: Persimmons can be neatly divided into two types, although there are a number of varieties: Hachiyas are acorn-shaped and need to be softened before you use them; squat Fuyus, shaped more like tomatoes, can be eaten crisp. Hachiya or Japanese persimmons are the most widely available. The fruit is powerfully astringent before it has had a chance to ripen, but give it time to soften and it has a sweet-tangy flavor and creamy texture. Fuyus can be eaten firm and lack the astringency of unripe hachiyas. The red-orange fruit are generally in season from October through January or February. Other varieties spotted recently include slightly spicy Maru and dark, sweet "chocolate" persimmons.

What to cook: You can eat persimmons out of hand or toss them with a quick salad of fall or winter greens. Persimmons also work well in baked goods, such as breads or cakes, or puddings, flavored with a touch of cinnamon or clove. Add persimmons to cocktails, combining the fruit with simple syrup, spice and tequila for seasonal margarita.

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What's on the horizon: Brussels sprouts, generally in season from November through February, are beginning to show up.

FUYU PERSIMMON SALAD WITH CUMIN-LIME VINAIGRETTE

Total time: 40 minutes | Serves 8

Note: Fuyus are the small, crisp persimmons. They're only slightly sweet, so when paired with an assertive vinaigrette, they make a refreshing salad.

2 pounds Fuyu persimmons

Juice of 1 lime

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced

Salt

1 tablespoon walnut oil

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/4 pomegranate)

3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, toasted

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

1. Cut off the tough green calyxes and slice each persimmon in 10 to 12 wedges.

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2. In a small lidded jar, combine the lime juice, cumin, about half of the chile, a dash of salt and the walnut oil. Tightly cover and shake hard to mix well. Taste the dressing on a small piece of persimmon. There should be just enough chile to add a suggestion of heat. If you'd like it hotter, add more and shake again.

3. Combine the persimmons and the dressing in a work bowl and toss to coat well. Turn the salad out into a decorative bowl and sprinkle with the pomegranate seeds, walnuts and cilantro. Taste and add more salt or lime juice if necessary.

Each of 8 servings: 185 calories; 39 mg. sodium; 0 cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 0 saturated fat; 40 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams protein; 0.30 gram fiber.

Love cooking as much as I do? Follow me @noellecarter

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