Look at this cool fruit! Scaly green skin, with teardrop shaped, hard seeds throughout the flesh. The pulp is sweet, a little tangy, and creamy. It’s called a cherimoya, and it’s one of my favorite tropical fruits!
The cherimoya is a fruit thought to be native of the Andes or Central America. Today, cherimoya is grown throughout South Asia, Central America, South America, Southern California, Portugal, southern Andalucia [La Axarquia] and South of Italy (Calabria).
The fruit flesh is white and creamy, and has numerous dark brown 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, papaya, peach, and strawberry. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy, dark seeds that are easily removed. When ripe, the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado. Many people often chill the cherimoya and eat it with a spoon, which has earned it another nickname; the ice cream fruit.
My mom grew up eating tons of these in Vietnam. Unfortunately, now, we’re lucky if we can find one or two good ones a year. On our travels, we’ve seen varieties in Hawaii, Vietnam, and Jamaica.
As mentioned in the above description, these are ripe when they have a bright green skin color and are soft, like an avocado. Be careful with this tip! My mom has brought home so many that didn’t ripen, instead they turned black and became very firm. The fruits sold over here in the United States are picked so green for shipping that they lose a chance to ripen correctly. So pick a good cherimoya, if you do see them at the store!
While it is good to simply cut the fruit in half, remove the stem & core, and eat it chilled or frozen with a spoon, my mom and I like to cut them in wedges, down the skin, and eat them almost like sliced oranges or mangos. It’s such a treat on a hot day, with an amazing, creamy sweetness and tropical flavor.
So there you go, the cherimoya! If you stumble upon it in your travels, or even at your local produce store, try one! But make sure that it’s ripe!