Wednesday, January 14

What is a Cherimoya? Perhaps the Greatest Fruit on the Planet.

cherimoya

The cherimoya (pronounced chair-uh-MOY-yuh) is the king of fruit. This is no surprise given that this ancient Incan fruit was originally reserved for royalty.

From external appearances, the cherimoya isn't exactly captivating. It looks more like something out of The Flintstones rather than an exquisite fruit. Don't let its pre-historic appearance put you off. Slice open a cherimoya and you will discover a fragrant, ivory, custard-like flesh, hence its common name "custard apple."

When selecting cherimoyas, look for green skin with a gold hue. Some fruits may be tinged with brown, which is ok; however, avoid fruits that are black or shriveled. Allow cherimoyas to ripen at room temperature. A ripe cherimoya, like a ripe avocado, should yield to gentle pressure, and will have a browner skin. (Note: In the first photo, the green cherimoya in the forefront needs a couple more days to ripen, while the browner cherimoya in the back is ready to eat.)

Once ripe, cherimoyas can be refrigerated for 1-2 days, but they will lose their flavor if kept longer. They are best eaten as soon as they reach full ripeness; their flavor is most intense when eaten at room temperature or just slightly chilled.

cherimoya halved

What does a cherimoya taste like? A perfectly ripe cherimoya is an intoxicating combination of tropical flavors like bananas, coconut, strawberries, and mangoes. Some people also taste pineapple and papayas. Don't think one fruit could possibly have all of those ambrosial flavors? Then try one to see for yourself.

scooping out the cherimoya's flesh

Slice the fruit in half, and using a spoon, scoop out the flesh. You could sprinkle it first with fresh lime juice; you could add the flesh to a smoothie; you could even make sherbet with it. But don't. It's best unadulterated, when you can truly appreciate its unique flavor and texture. Just be sure you don't eat the shiny, large black seeds inside. Chomping on those will just send you to the dentist's office.

Once you taste a cherimoya's luscious, creamy flesh, you'll understand why Mark Twain called it "the most delicious fruit known to man."

scooping out the cherimoya's flesh

Where can you buy cherimoyas? Most U.S. cherimoyas are grown in CA and are available from early January through April. However, since they're sensitive to temperature changes, the season varies from year to year. Few major supermarkets will likely carry cherimoyas; try specialty and organic markets, or go online to reputatble sites such as Melissas.com. Though they're pricey, they're worth every penny.

You might also like these California winter fruits and recipes:

Strawberry Guavas


Wild Arugula and Blood Orange Salad with Prosciutto

Shrimp Tacos with Citrus-Avocado Salsa

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66 comments:

Manasi said...

I'm jumping up and down with joy at this very moment. Custard apple was a hot favorite during my childhood in India and I simply had no idea I could get it here. Thank you thank you thank you! and Thank you.
If you have the patience to deseed it, you could try an Indian sweet called Custard Apple Rabri. Milk thickened to a paste consistency, with slivers of custard apple, flavored with cardammom and saffron. Heaven in a bowl.

City Girl said...

Oh my - this looks delicious and I am completely intrigued. :)

StickyGooeyCreamyChewy said...

I've seen these at the market and had no clue what they were. Thanks for the education. They look a little like prehistoric strawberries. ;)

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love this fruit which tastes like mix of banana, strawberry and pear..

Cheers,

Rosa

Chris said...

Thank you for this free education on exotic fruits I would certainly never have discovered myself! :) I will try and hunt these down and distinguish its distinct flavors myself.

Elra said...

Oh Susan, this fruit is delicious. I grew up with this fruit. Back then I didn't care much about it, but now? I miss all of them. Wait until you see fruit called "langsat" popping in CA, you'll probably going to like it too.
Thanks for sharing and introducing this exotic fruit to us.
Cheers,
Elra

RecipeGirl said...

Quite interesting.. I've heard of this fruit but have never seen it or known about its wonderful flavors. Thanks for sharing. Will have to discover for myself sometime soon!

Rita said...

Susan I love how you take the time to introduce new fruits on your blog. To me every time I see a "new, tropical, weird fruit" here is like a memory trip for me, as many of them are grown and popular in Brazil. This one is called Fruta do Conde which means The Count's Fruit. It's really fun to spit out the seeds....

Snooky doodle said...

this looks delicious! I ve never heard of this fruit. wish to try it though. must taste like the tropics :)

Cheryl said...

We ate these a lot when I was growing up in Spain. I love them!

Anushruti said...

Custard apples are very popular in India, but the appearance is slightly different. Custard apple known as sitaphal is also used to make many desserts and sitaphal icecream is a rage in Mumbai, when they are in season.

Michelle said...

Wow! Never heard of these. I'm going to look up nutritional info because now my interest in piqued!

Marcia H said...

This is torture, there's no way to get a ripe, fresh and sweet cherimoya here in Germany :-( buahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

I love this fruit!

Cakespy said...

I had never even HEARD of the custard apple (I love that name for it!!). And if you and Mark Twain say it's wonderful...well, that is good enough for me! :-)

Mishmash ! said...

Both Mark Twain and you re right...this is the most delicious and my absolute fave!!! I just love this one and I grew up eating this a lot....but had no clue that it is available here....when i saw ur title, i thought it's some strange fruit and when i saw the pic, i was like, isn't this custard apple ? :)))

Thank you so much for this post..let me see if i can get 'cherimoya's at our local store :)

We Are Not Martha said...

Wow, I've never heard of this, but it sounds like it tastes like tropical goodness. And that makes me reallyyy want to try it ASAP! Need to find it!

Sues

Weight Loss said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maryann said...

Why have I never had one of these? Thanks susan..I will look for these now :)

Culinarywannabe said...

I've never in my life seen this fruit. Oh no - another fruit that I can only find when I'm on the west coast and crave the rest of the year. It's like rainier cherries all over again! :)

An Indian's Makup Blog ! said...

Ooh Custard apple ...thats what they are called in India. Very popular there. As always...great post Susan !

Heather said...

you always find the coolest fruit! this one sounds amazing!! apple custard?! i'm sold!!

Dragon said...

It really does look like custard inside. Wow, thanks for opening my eyes to this gorgeous fruit. :)

Zen Chef said...

You make me crave Cherimoya! Hand it over! :-)
What a fantastic fruit that is!

Lien said...

Never heard of or saw one before. Isn't it amazing how fruit looks sometimes, this one like a rolled up lizzard skin and that custardy-texture inside. Lovely and when I hear you discribe the flavours....wow! If ever I ran into one here... I know that I'll have to buy one immediately!!

Cakelaw said...

I lurv custard apples!! Great post.

NĂºria said...

Hola Susan! Thanks for the fantastic description and directions on how to choose and eat a Chirimoya. I have never tried it before although I can find it in the grocers shops. You made my hunger grow for them ;D

maggie said...

wow, I've never had one of these! Now I'm curious!

Peter M said...

Count me in...I must find it and try it. I'm a big fan of simply eating fruits as dessert.

Manggy said...

Sigh, they're everywhere in the Phils but I always took 'em for granted. We have an ice cream manufacturer that makes cherimoya ("Atis") ice cream!

Aparna said...

Love custard apples (that's what we call them here).
They make lovely ice-cream and milkshakes.

LyB said...

I am so jealous, I've never even see one of those! You've got me intrigued with that description. I'll have to be on the lookout, just in case they do pop up somewhere around here. :)

Jen said...

Sounds amazing!! I'll keep an eye out for it, and many thanks for all of this tasty info.

Christine said...

I've not seen these up here in No. Cal. but I've tasted them before and they are everything you say they are. I'll have to keep my eyes open for them. Beautiful photos, Susan.

Nithya Praveen said...

They look similar to the custard apple that we get in India.Is this the same????

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

I absolutely need to give this another try. In my taste memory, I think I have cherimoyas in the same "don't go there" compartment with durian.

Annie said...

Every time I stop by your blog I learn something new. I am also totally amazed at your knowledge and wonderful way of explaining things.

Thanks for taking the time to educate me on this delicious looking fruit. It sounds amazing and I will definately try it if I can find them in my Whole Foods Market. :)

chefectomy said...

Seen these Susan but have never tried them. I am a tropical fruit fiend. Sounds like it's worth a go-thanks for the post!

--Marc

Brilynn said...

I love love looooooooooove cherimoyas but can't get them unless I'm in the city. They're SO good!

Gretchen Noelle said...

Amazing to think that these are available in CA. Or better yet, grown in CA? Wow! They are just starting to come into stores now. I admit, I am not a huge fan, but for me it is more of a texture thing. And I like the tarter taste of it's "cousin" the guanabana (Soursop, I think, in English?)

Abby said...

Now that is a new one to me. And I don't think I've ever seen one around here, but I'm going to look. It sounds like something good to give Cash when he's old enough - the texture looks awesome!

Ivy said...

It must be the best as everybody who has tried this fruit sound so enthusiastic. Thanks for introducing us to it.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

manasi-Yay! I love when a post evokes nostalgia. And you're so welcome! Thank you for the simple yet sumptuous dessert idea.:)

citrygril-They are intriguing fruit.

susan-You're welcome!

rosa-So many wonderful flavors.

chris-I hope you find some.

elra-I don't think I have seen langsat yet. Now I'm excited!

lori-You can find them here in SD pretty easily.

rita-I appreciate that. Thank you.

snooky-It does taste like the tropics, indeed.

cheryl-Thanks for sharing!

anushruti-Sitaphal ice cream must be heavenly.

michelle-Great! :)

marcia. Oh. :(

cakespy-Yeah, I've always trusted Mark. ;)

shn-If not locally, then you can definitely get some online!

wanm-You will really love it too.

maryann-Because they're so special? ;)

ashley-It just makes them all that much more precious. :)

indian's blog-Thank you so much! I had no idea they were so popular in India.

heather-Me too!

dragon-Oh, it's my pleasure!

zen-Just try and make me. ;)

lien-It is lizzardy looking, isn't it?

cakelaw-Thank you!

nuria-They really are amazing.

maggie-Hope you find some!

peter-So am I.

mark-I really need to try cherimoya ice cream now. :)

aparna-They must be divine.

lyb-Keep looking! They're worth the wait.

jen-You're so welcome!

christine-Maybe in SF? Good luck!

nithya-Yes, it is!

lydia-Well, it's time to take it out! :)

annie-I'm so happy to hear that. Thank you, kindly.

marc-Really? Well, you'll have to get some next time you're in SD.

brilynn-I know. They really are soooo good. :)

gretchennoelle-They sure are! Guanabana? Hmm...not sure I've seen those. Will have to look though!

abby-He'd love it!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

ivy-You're welcome, my dear!

linda said...

You're making me very curious...I wonder if I can get them here....

Gloria said...

I want to say chirimoya is one of the most delicious fruits I know, we have them here in Chile. I love them. Im so happy to see you show them, many times I want to make some recipes but I dont because I dont have idea if you know them so I love your post and pictures!!!!!xxGloria

Scott at Real Epicurean said...

Ah! I ate one of these a long time ago after seeing one in a supermarket. Wasn't all that impressed at the time but I guess I could re-visit it!

Jaime said...

is this the same thing as soursop? sure looks like it...

Bellini Valli said...

Bow that you've brought them to my attention I will be watching out for them everywhere. Their design even reminds me of ancient Inca dress.

Jude said...

What a nice combination of tropical flavors in one fruit. Very interesting stuff.

Sylvie, Rappahannock Cook & Kitchen Gardener said...

Cherimoyas are closely related to the paw-paw, a native of the Eastern US (you know, the paw paw that's also called banana custard, hoosier banana etc). But it's much easier to find a cherimoya than a pawpaw which is equally delicious. Sigh...

Sylvie

ThePurpleFoodie said...

I love custard apples, in fact we've been lucky to have them for very long this season. The ones we get here are deeper ridges, so first when I saw your photo I thought it might be a fruit from the same family. It most definitely wins a spot as one of my top three fav fruits!

ChichaJo said...

As Manggy said, they're called "atis" here and I've always taken them for granted -- now you've got me craving! Isn't that funny? :)

Michelle said...

I love custard apples! Here in the UK you rarely see them but when you do, you must pounce! You should be patient and wait until it's fully ripe because it tastes so much sweeter and juicier.

Susan, you wouldn't like to sit at the same table as me when we're eating this fruit. Stuff the teaspoon and all sense of decency and eat it with your hands instead. ;-)

warrington said...

finally some pictures that do the cherimoya justice.

I'm finally inspired to buy a tree. thanks.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

warrington-So glad to hear it! And thanks. Cherimoyas aren't the most photogenic of fruits.

Aimee said...

cherimoya...i live in spain and you can buy these in supermarkets and fruit shops just as easy as bananas...i have just finished one...amazing everytime...i think sometimes they taste like candy floss...best fruit EVER...thank you

Teauteau said...

We have been here on beautiful Mau'i all week and we have stopped by a little farmer's market near Kihei a couple times to buy the delicious apple bananas. I bought a cheremoya the other day and it was finally ripe enough to cut into today. Delicious! I have seen these in the store in the hispanic produce section in Kansas City, Kansas but they're expensive. I will have to start buying them periodically. The closest thing we have to this in the wild is the paw paw Asimina triloba which is native to Kansas and Missouri and is similar to a banana custard when ripe.

Anonymous said...

I was intrigued by the cherimoya after watching 'Chopped' on the
Food Network. The Chefs used this
fruit in preparing a desert for the last contest. I had never heard of it before so I googled it. I will search around in Chicago for cherimoya although I am a bit scared of the seeds!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-Don't be scared of the seeds. They're too big to miss and are easy to spit out. Hope you find a cherimoya. They're heavenly!

Anonymous said...

I tried a cherimoya and it just tasted like a carrot! Seriously! How can it taste so different from the descriptions I've read here? Did I get a bad one? Maybe I need to try another one.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous- A carrot? Really?! I'm truly surprised. A cherimoya shouldn't taste anything like a carrot. Where did you get it?

Anonymous said...

Susan, I got the carrot-tasting Cherimoya at H-mart (a Korean/Asian market) in Lynnwood, Washington. And it was definitely a Cherimoya - that's what it said, and it looks like the pictures I've seen. I guess I need to try another one, hopefully I'll have better luck!

Susan from Food Blogga said...

anonymous-Yes, please do try again. Cherimoyas are the essence of tropical fruit flavors. Let me know if you find a good one!

Cherimoya carrot guy said...

Well I tried my second Cherimoya, and this time I let it ripen for a couple of days. It tasted better. But I could still taste the carrot flavor. Maybe I'll let the next one ripen for 3 days. Or wait until it's turned all brown! How do I know when it's at its peak ripeness?

Susan from Food Blogga said...

carrot guy-So bizarre that it still tastes like carrot.To test ripeness: Place it in the palm of your hand and give it a gentle squeeze. It should give slightly but not be so mushy that it squishes in your hand. Some fully ripe cherimoyas have some brown streaks on them, but completely green ones can also be ripe. So the touch test is the best.

Keep me posted!

Anonymous said...

I was told (by my landlord, who picked it off his tree) that it should be as soft as a ripe banana, and that worked just right. Sooooo goooood. There's a strong pear taste, blended with a little coconut-like milk.

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