Cherimoya is a large fruit with olive green skin that varys from heart-shaped to pineapple-shaped, sometimes slightly irregular with curved protuberances across the surface that can look like large scales. Internally, when ripe, the soft flesh is creamy white with a consistency of ice cream or gelatinous syrup. The fine taste is aromatic, very sweet, though sometimes with nicely balanced acids and sugars, and a tropical flavour of pineapple and banana.
The flesh contains a number of shiny black, hard seeds, which should not be eaten.
Of the various varieties or castas, Negrito is said to have the best flavour, but produces a large proportion of slightly deformed fruit; Pinchudo is recognised as having an excellent sugar to acid balance, but has thin skin and is prone to fruit fly attack; Campas has uniformly large fruit; and Fino de Jerte is sweet, though not particularly aromatic. The latter two are the main commercial varieties.
Cherimoya is rich in antioxydants and a good source of vitamin B6 and potassium.
When ripe, Cherimoya feels dense and delicate with a distinct softness or ‘give’ to the touch. There may be brown discolouration or slight fissures to the skin. The flesh can be eaten with a spoon straight from the fruit, avoiding the seeds.
Good Fruit Guide Rating: *****
Cherimoya is a wonderfully flavoursome and sweet fruit which many people will find very attractive.
Creamy, flavoursome, exotic.
Names: Cherimoya; Annona cherimola; Custard Apple; Sweetsop; Sugar Apple; various ‘castas’: Pinchudo, Negrito, Fino de Jerte, Campas
Origin: Cherimoya originated in the Andes in South America (Ecuador, Peru and Chile). It was imported to Spain from the ‘New World’, possibly in the late 18th or early 19th century.
Grown in: Spain, particularly between Marbella and Motril (Almunecar); California; most Mediterranean, sub-tropical and high-altitude tropical climatic zones.
Harvest & Availability: Import of Cherimoya to UK is as follows:
- January: Spain
- February: Spain
- March: Spain
- December: Spain