Produce Review: Cherimoya

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:

Raw Cherimoya Custard Pudding

References:

http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cherimoya.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cherimoya

Produce Review: Fingered Citron/”Buddha’s Hand”

buddhas-hand

I pride myself on trying new/different fruit and veggies, and this week I tried a fingered citron, known more by it’s other name: “Buddha’s Hand”, for the first time.  Perhaps you’ve seen this odd yellow fruit in your local grocery store, but what is it & most importantly, what do you do with it?  The fingered citron is almost all rind and a substance called pith (the bitter white stuff that’s inside an orange peel for example), doesn’t have seeds, and has a very unique and strong smell that can be described as lemony, floral (some say lavender), and with slight vanilla notes.

pith

The Buddha’s Hand is actually prized more for its decorative shape and super-lemony fragrance than its taste, but it is completely edible.  I tried one of the fingers, and although it’s all pith inside, it has a mild lemon taste without the acid and bitterness present in other members of the lemon family.  The finger was oddly dry and spongy in texture.  You don’t expect fruit to not have fruit or juice inside!  However, the real “flavor-pizzazz” of this citron comes from the yellow rind, and the Buddha’s Hand can be used in place of lemon zest in any lemon recipe.  There are some recipes specifically tailored to using Buddha’s Hand: candied Buddha’s Hand, marmalade, waffles, and infused beverages.  In particular I wanted to share with you all a link to a recipe to make Buddha’s Hand Waffles (click here).

So next time you’re in the produce isle, why not take a look to see if you might spot a Buddha’s Hand?  Please let me know if you try one!  Till next fruit/veggie exploration!

~Abby

 

For more on the History of the Buddha’s Hand:

Visit One Green Planet’s Buddha’s Hand Site

For more ideas on how to use a Buddha’s Hand:

Visit the Smithsonian Buddha’s Hand Website

Photos from:

Fruit Maven