Cherimoya — a.k.a The Custard Apple


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According to Wikipedia, the Cherimoya:

…is a species of Annona native to the Andean-highland valleys of Ecuador and Peru. It is a deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub or small tree reaching 7 m tall.

The fruit is oval, often slightly oblique, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin. The fruit flesh is white, and has numerous seeds embedded in it. Mark Twain called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men.”

The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of banana, pineapple, and strawberry. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy, dark seeds that are easily removed. The seeds are poisonous if crushed open and can be used as an insecticide. An extractive of the bark can induce paralysis if injected. When ripe the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado.

I’ve been eying these bad boys in Russo’s for quite a while now… because at $5.98 a pound, the price was a bit steep for me. So, when they dropped down to $2.98/lb, I immediately grabbed one and left it to ripen.

The flesh is shockingly white, very juicy and riddled with the large black seeds… which are definitely a downside to this fruit.

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The texture is crazy though… just as described, it’s very soft and easy to eat with a spoon. It has a thick custard-like appearance and a velvety feel to it. My first bite immediately reminded me of tutti frutti and after a little research, I found that others have compared the taste to “commercial bubblegum”. I definitely tasted notes of both. It was also reminiscent of banana, pineapple and honey dew to me… and is VERY sweet. The texture also reminded me of a very ripe pear… but with zero mealiness.

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You can see the amount of juice that came from just this one little spoonful. This would definitely be great juiced or added to smoothie… after you went through the arduous task of removing all the seeds, of course (especially since they are poisonous!)

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I’d like to try making a Cherimoya ice cream or sorbet — I think it would be fabulous. It’s definitely one of the best-tasting fruits I’ve had in  while… and I wouldn’t mind doing some recipe experimentation with them.

The season ends in June… so unless you want to pay top dollar, I suggest picking one up soon. I’ve also seen it canned in Asian grocery stores, but I highly recommend going with fresh.

Lastly, they appear to be quite nutritious — with half a fruit (about 100g) boasting 80 cals, 1.5 g fiber, 1.4 g protein, 22 mg Ca, most of the B vitamins, a bit of C and Phosphorus. Here are a few recipes I found online.

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