After waiting a week for it to ripen, I was ready to try another new exotic fruit: the Cherimoya! I found a few at a local supermarket, and I was told by the produce manager that they only get in a few dozen within only a 14 day window. My initial reaction was wow, what makes these so tough to acquire?
It turns out the Cherimoya are actually quite a difficult fruit to grow and maintain. They’re found natively in Ecuador, Colombia, Peru and Bolivia. They only grow at specific altitude ranges (about 2,300-2,700 ft), require excellent drainage, and don’t tolerate hot/cold very well at all. Perhaps their most interesting issue is that they require hand-pollination, so Cherimoya farmers will hand brush pollen onto the 30 ft Cherimoya tree’s flowers in order to produce Cherimoya fruit using paint brushes! Whew, what work!
The fruit itself seems somewhat like a Cactus in color and texture but much like an Avocado you must wait until the fruit is soft to the touch to know if the fruit is ready to eat. My Cherimoya’s green outer skin had turned mostly brown by the time the fruit was soft to the touch.
I noticed my Cherimoya didn’t have any fragrance as the whole fruit or when I cut it open. The Cherimoya has many larger seeds inside of it. Eating it reminded me of a seeded Watermelon, but as an added caution, unlike a Watermelon, the seeds (and skin) of a Cherimoya are poisonous and should not be consumed.
The taste was very faint, and there were no discernible prominent flavors. Others describe the taste as a mix of various other flavors like pineapple and banana. I would agree with the Cherimoya’s nickname “Custard Apple”, as the texture is very custardy. However, I’m going to say that I wasn’t impressed with the flavor. I’ve tried the northern cousin of the Cherimoya: the Paw Paw & had a similar review on it’s flavor… Perhaps my Cherimoya (& Paw Paw) still wasn’t ripe enough.
So if you’re able to acquire a Cherimoya, be sure to consult with a produce expert to ensure that you’re consuming your Cherimoya at its pique flavor and ripeness. If anyone has any suggestions on how to get the most out of your Cherimoya, please feel free to let others know!
Below is a recipe that I found for a raw Cherimoya custard from Unconventional Baker: