Here’s a brief guide to cherimoya, one of the most unusual fruits you may encounter. It’s worth taking the time to carefully remove the large seeds so that the tantalizingly sweet fruit can be enjoyed. Here you’ll find some tips on how to buy and prep this fruit, and its best uses.
Cherimoya is a large, green, somewhat heart-shaped fruit that that grows on the cherimoya tree, a fruit-producing tree native to Colombia, Ecuador, and Bolivia. Cherimoya belongs to the custard apple family (which includes soursops), and has more than 500 varieties.
The fruit’s skin has an unusual appearance, similar to overlapping scales. It looks like it could be a curled-up baby dragon! As if the cherimoya’s exterior isn’t scary enough, consumers must be cautious with its toxic seeds. They’re easy to avoid because they’re so large and wood-hard, but still, special attention should be exercised to keep them away from children and pets.
What does it taste like? The fruit’s taste is definitely a sweet contrast to its intimidating characteristics. When ripe, the flesh is creamy white and has a taste that some describe as a blend of pineapple, banana, papaya, peach, and strawberry. There’s a hint of vanilla in its scent. If it weren’t for having to work around all those pesky seeds, this fruit would likely be as popular as mango.
Mark Twain loved the taste of cherimoya so much that he referred to it as “the most delicious fruit known to men” and “deliciousness itself.” One of the most common ways to indulge in this fruit is to simply chilling it, cut in half, and it with a spoon. Perhaps this is how it earned it the nickname “the ice cream fruit.”
Here’s lots more information on this unique fruit. The following information is from Melissa’s Great Book of Produce:
Buying and storage
Because they bruise easily, cherimoyas are often wrapped in protective mesh jackets. Generally sold firm, because once they ripen they deteriorate within 1 to 2 days. Ripen firm fruit at room temperature, usually about 1 week. Ripe fruit will give, like a peach, to light pressure. Once ripe, refrigerate up to 2 days.
Most of the cherimoya sold in the U.S. comes from California or Chile.
Chances are you won’t find cherimoya in your local supermarket, but who knows, you might be surprised! Do a web search on “where to buy cherimoya near me,” and if that yields no results, search “where to buy cherimoya.” You’ll find a number of online sources, including Melissa’s, from which you can get this fruit year-round as well as most any other type of produce under the sun!
How to prep
For eating raw with a spoon, cut in half lengthwise and scoop out flesh with teaspoon. To chop, cut into eighths, from top to bottom, then cut off skin and remove seeds. Fibrous center can be removed if still firm (when it’s really soft it can be eaten). Or peel with paring knife, cut in quarters and remove seeds and, if necessary, fibrous center.
Once cut, cherimoya discolors quickly. Place in acidulated water (water mixed with small amount of lemon or lime juice) or squeeze a little orange juice on it, a common way to enjoy cherimoya in Chile.
Cherimoya is an excellent source of vitamin C; a significant source of riboflavin and thiamin; and a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, and magnesium. For more information, see Health Benefits of Cherimoya.
Cherimoya is best eaten chilled and raw simply on its own or in compotes, ice creams, sorbets, cocktails, mocktails, smoothies, cold fruit soups, smoothie bowls, and sorbets. It can be used in pastries and puddings as well.
If the fruit becomes overripe (that is, almost like mush), combine the pitted flesh in equal parts with avocado plus lime juice and salt to taste for a sweet and savory dip. You can also blend it into a custardy consistency to use as a sugar-free creme in sweet pastries.
Cherimoya smoothie with meyer lemon (photo: Melissa’s; see link to recipe just below)
Experiment with cherimoya, guided by these plant-based recipes from around the web.
- Cherimoya Smoothie
- Cherimoya Smoothie Bowls
- Raw Cherimoya Custard Pudding
- Baked Cherimoya
- Cherimoya Lime Sorbet
- Cherimoya Cold Summer Soup
- 3-Ingredient Avocado and Cherimoya Ice Cream
- Cherimoya Lemon Frozen Daquiris
- Cherimoya Marguerita
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Melissa’s Great Book of Produce is available wherever books are sold