What's a Cherimoya?

If you’ve spotted a strange, irregularly ovoid, mottled, scaly-patterned greenish fruit at the market recently and wondered what on earth that thing was, you were probably looking at a cherimoya, my friend. This tropical fruit, also known as a “custard apple,” is grown in many areas around the world and domestically in California, and it is in season and available from November through May.

Curious about this peculiar-looking fruit? Here are a few things to know:

  • The taste of cherimoyas has been described as a “delicate combination of pineapple, papaya and banana.” Some people taste notes of mango and vanilla.
  • The consistency of the flesh is sort of creamy, yet firm and custardy, velvety even.
  • You want to avoid eating the large, hard black seeds nestled within the flesh; they’re said to be toxic.
  • When purchasing, look for cherimoyas that are light-colored, firm, heavy and blemish-free – not the ones with brown spots.
  • Ripen at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Once they are ripe (they give a little to gentle pressure), wrap them up and refrigerate them. They’ll stay ripe and edible for about four days. (Don’t let them over-ripen or they won’t be as tasty.)
  • Cherimoyas taste good chilled. Just break them in half, spoon out the flesh and remove the seeds. Or peel and slice them (again, discarding the seeds).
  • You can feel virtuous about eating them: Cherimoyas are rich in niacin, iron and vitamin C. (Here’s more nutritional information about the fruit.)

    Put this seasonal fruit to work in Aarón Sánchez’s recipe for Bananas Faustos with Cherimoya Salsa. Yum.

    Photo courtesy of iStock
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