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Cherimoya: lumpy, costly, but the flavor turns some people rhapsodic.

"It tastes like paradise!" This is a typical reaction to the cherimoya, an odd-looking fruit that originated in the cool mountain valleys of Peru. The cherimoya is considered the tastiest of a large family of tropical American fruits called anonas; it has a pleasing, sweet-tart flavor and a heady aroma reminiscent of banana, cherry, pineapple, strawberry, and vanilla. To some, it's simply the "ice cream fruit," so named for its custard-like texture and rich flavor.

But for all its intriguing assets, this fruit tends to intimidate shoppers, and not just because it looks a little strange--some say reptilian. First, cherimoyas are expensive: $5 to $8 a pound (an average fruit weighs 3/4 to 1 lb.). And cherimoyas must be handled properly or they'll never ripen and will rot.

Why are cherimoyas so pricy? Because they take time to grow: flowers must be hand-pollinated, fruits take about six months to mature, and the delicate fruits must be individually harvested.

In the past, cherimoyas came from Florida or Mexico. Now, Western growers also produce the fruit found in our markets. Harvest runs January through May, with peak supply in the spring.

You'll find two varieties for sale: Bays and White. They are rarely labeled as such, but their shapes make them easy to tell apart (see picture at lower left).

Bays are round, with a smooth, green skin that stays the same color as fruit ripens. White cherimoyas are conical, with a rougher skin that takes on a tan tone as fruit ripens. Both types have soft, creamy flesh with large black seeds.

When ready to eat, fruits of either variety should give when gently squeezed, like a ripe peach.

If you must select an underripe cherimoya, it should be an even green color with no soft spots (splits near the stem end shouldn't affect fruit). Let fruit ripen, unwrapped, at room temperature. A wrapped fruit will decay the flesh darkens and sours. Never chill an unripe cherimoya; cool temperatures stop its maturing process.

For best flavor, eat fruit as soon as it is ripe. Ripe fruit can be refrigerated up to three days.

You can cheek ripeness by making a tiny slit in your fruit and testing its taste and texture. If it isn't ready, don't worry: the slit will seal itself and the fruit will continue to ripen.

Cherimoyas taste delicious unadorned, split in half and scooped out with a spoon. But they also add an exotic aura to these simple dishes. Both the appetizer salad and main-dish salad take advantage of a cherimoya's sweet-tart flavor. The desserts make use of the fruit's ice creamlike qualities.

Cherimoya Appetizer with Pepper-Lime Salsa

6 tablespoons lime juice

1/2 cup minced red bell pepper

1 fresh jalapeno chili, stemmed, seeded, and minced

1 tablespoon minced parsley

2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger

1 ripe cherimoya (about 3/4 lb.), cut into 4 lengthwise wedges

Parsley sprigs (optional)

In a bowl, combine lime juice, bell pepper, chili, minced parsley, and ginger. If made ahead, cover salsa and chill up to 2 days. Place a cherimoya wedge on each of 4 salad plates. Spoon salsa onto fruit. Garnish with parsley sprigs. Makes 4 appetizer servings.

Per serving: 80 cal; 1.2 g protein; 20 g carbo.; 0.4 g fat; 0 mg chol.; 4.8 mg sodium.

Cherimoya Chicken Salad

3/4 pound boned and skinned chicken breasts

1/4 cup each olive oil or salad oil and lemon juice

1-1/2 teaspoons each grated lemon peel and sugar

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 piece (about 7 in. long, 1/2 Lb.) European-style cucumber, quartered lengthwise, then thinly sliced

3 green onions (ends trimmed), thinly sliced

About 8 medium-size butter lettuce leaves, washed and crisped

1 ripe cherimoya (about 3/4 lb.), cut into 4 lengthwise wedges

Lemon wedges


In a 4- to 5-quart pan, bring 3 quarts water to a boil over high heat. Add chicken, cover, and remove at once from heat. Let stand until chicken is no longer pink in thickest section (cut to test), about 20 minutes; drain. If made ahead, cover and chill up until next day.

In a large bowl, mix together oil, lemon juice and peel, sugar, and pepper; spoon out 2 tablespoons and reserve. When chicken is tepid or cool, tear it into bitesize pieces and add to bowl. Stir in cucumber and green onions.

Arrange lettuce on 4 dinner plates; fill leaves with equal amounts of salad. Set a cherimoya wedge on each plate and drizzle with reserved dressing. Garnish with lemon wedges; offer salt to add to taste. Makes 4 entree servings. Per serving : 313 cal. ; 22 g protein; 25 g carbo.; 15 g fat; 49 mg chol; 63 mg sodium.

Chilled Cherimoya Souffle

1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1/2 cup orange juice

1 ripe cherimoya (about 3/4 lb.)

3 large egg whites

3 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a 2- to 3-cup pan, or in a glass measuring cup, sprinkle gelatin over juice; let stand until softened, about 5 minutes. In pan over direct heat, or in measuring cup in a microwave oven, warm juice until gelatin melts. Let mixture cool until slightly warm.

Meanwhile, cut cherimoya into 8 lengthwise wedges, Trim off and discard peel. Cut or scoop out seeds; rinse and set aside. In a blender or food processor, smoothly purEe cherimoya with gelatin mixture. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

With an electric mixer on high speed, whip egg whites until foamy. Gradually add sugar and whip until whites hold stiff, shiny peaks. Scoop into bowl with cherimoya. With unwashed beaters, whip cream in the same bowl until it holds soft peaks; stir in vanilla. Add to cherimoya mixture and fold gently together. Spoon into 4 to 6 dessert dishes (about 7 oz. each). Cover airtight; don't let wrap touch surface. Chill until cold, at least 2 hours or up until next day. Garnish each serving with a few seeds. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Per serving: 148 cal.; 3.2 g protein; 21 g carbo.; 6.3 g fat; 22 mg chol; 33 mg sodium.

Cherimoya Ice

1 ripe cherimoya (about 3/4 lb.)

1 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons sugar

Thin orange slices and/or mint sprigs (optional)

Cut cherimoya into 8 lengthwise wedges. Trim off and discard peel. Cut or scoop out seeds and discard.

In a blender or food processor, smoothly puree fruit, orange juice, and sugar.

Freeze mixture in a self-refrigerated ice cream maker or a frozen ice cream cylinder; follow manufacturer's directions. Freeze until almost firm; serve at once. Or pour mixture into an 8- to 10-inchsquare metal pan; cover and freeze until mixture is solid, at least 4 hours or up to I month. Break into small chunks and whirl in a food processor or beat with an electric mixer until it forms a smooth slush. Serve at once, or cover and freeze about 1 hour. To store the ice, cover and freeze up to a maximum of 1 month. Ice gets very hard; to serve, break into chunks and beat to a smooth slush in a food processor or with an electric mixer. Garnish scoops with orange slices and/or mint. Makes 4 servings, about 1/2 cup each.

Per serving: 121 cal ; 1.4 g protein; 31 g carbo.; 0.3 g fat; 0 mg chol.; 0.1 mg sodium.
COPYRIGHT 1989 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:recipes
Date:Apr 1, 1989
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