“The most delicious fruit known to men”
– Mark Twain, writing about the cherimoya in The Sacramento Daily Union, Oct. 25, 1866
Dubbed “custard fruit” or “custard apple” for a good reason, the cherimoya is a wonderful discovery in the produce department, especially for those who have a sweet tooth but might be trying to toe the New-Year’s-resolution line when it comes to desserts and goodies.
Because here’s the little secret…I’ll whisper it…cut this baby in half, grab a spoon, dig in and it tastes just like custard or ice cream.
Outside, it looks like what your fertile imagination would say is a dinosaur egg, with its matte green shingled skin, but once you thwack it open, it reveals a creamy ivory colored flesh that is naturally sweet, with a bit of a hint of pineapple, or mango, or maybe peach, or all three. Hmmm…maybe even a pina colada flavor, without the booze! A few large black seeds are easily flung out of the way. There’s no need for a bowl, either. Just scoop straight from the skin and into your gaping maw, like you would a melon.
A few more helpful bits for you:
- Say it: Chair-i-moya.
- Ripe: At the store, choose fruit that is firm and allow to ripen at room temperature. As it ripens, the skin begins to turn a darker green and will yield to gentle pressure.
- Careful: Handle gently or you will bruise it.
- Chill: When fruit is ripe, refrigerate and use as soon as possible for best flavor.
It’s a sub-tropical, and this time of year it’s grown commercially in Santa Barbara. Mine came from the fine produce purveyors at Melissa’s Produce, who tell me the peak season this year is Feb.-May, and they sell for about $3.50 or so a pound.
After the Santa Barbara fruit is done in August, cherimoyas might come from far-away Chile (Sept.-Dec.) and the price will increase accordingly, to near $5 a pound. So get them now through early summer to bless both your wallet and your karma.
Cherimoya was originally grown by Inca farmers in Ecuador and Peru (thanks for that, as well as the potato!), but has now spread across the globe.
It’s easy to see why!
What else can you do with cherimoya, other than eat it out of hand?
- Cut up in fruit salads or green salads
- Whirl in with your smoothie (remove skin and seeds first, of course)
- Freeze flesh and whirl in food processor to make a frozen faux ice cream
But the best way is this…
Disclosure: Melissa’s Produce provided a sample of the fruit mentioned in this article. There was no expectation or requirement of endorsement. My opinions, as always, are my own.