Cherimoya is a source of many benefits that are very necessary to maintain good health. It can be consumed alone or in different delicious preparations.
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What is a custard apple?
It is a very juicy and tasty sweet fruit. The exterior is green with a creamy, whitish pulp with black and shiny seeds inside. The skin is thick but entirely striped and easy to split.
When these fruits are opened to be able to eat them, they give off a very characteristic and pleasant smell. Its sweet taste with a slightly acidic touch recalls the flavour of other fruits such as pear, banana or pineapple.
The custard apple (Annona Cherimola Mill) is a tropical fruit that belongs to the Anonaceae family and the genus Annona, like the soursop.
The cherimoya tree is called the custard apple, a small tree up to 8 meters high. Likewise, its trunk is short with low ramifications and a rounded crown.
It is a deciduous fruit tree whose cultivation can be done in relatively small areas since the diameter of its crown is approximately 8 meters in an adult custard apple.
Its cultivation is not very difficult, although it needs specific conditions to grow normally.
Origin of the custard apple
There are historical data where it is explained that the custard apple (Annona Cherimola Mill) is native to the South American region between Ecuador and Peru. In addition, there is scientific research that supports the origin of this tropical fruit. It is an Andean area that is more than 1500 meters away.
Culturing these fruits with such characteristic colour, smell, and taste quickly spread to other regions of the Andes of Chile and Colombia.
Like other fruits originating in the American continent, it was introduced in Europe after discovering the new world. The first Spanish discoverers of this fruit called it “manjar blanco.” Delicious fruits with very beneficial properties for our health.
Custard apple production
Although it is a fruit typical of South America, now it is a ubiquitous food in many parts of the planet. Moreover, according to recent data, Spain is the world’s leading producer of custard apples.
They are the Granada towns of Almuñécar, Jete, Motril, Otívar and Salobreña, where the cultivation of guava is mainly practiced. These areas seem to have a climate with characteristics similar to the tropical one in season.
Consequently, many people are dedicated to cultivating custard apples in these Spanish regions.
Although typical of South America, these foods are also grown in Europe. Specifically in the south, on the coast of Granada (Spain), in the municipalities of Almuñécar, Jete, Motril, Otívar and Salobreña. The countries of Portugal, France and Germany are the primary recipients of Spanish exports.
Spain has the leadership in custard apple exports. However, in countries such as Argentina, Peru, Australia, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, the United States, Israel, South Africa, Spain and Taiwan, the cultivation of custard apple (Annona Cherimola Mill) is standard. Therefore, many people are dedicated to producing this food in these regions.
This fruit is known by other names, depending on its area of origin. This is the case of “soursop,” “pap,” or “tzumuxin” in Guatemala and “anyone” in France. In other countries, it is known as cherimoya or chirimoya.
Custard apple varieties
We can differentiate various types of custard apples, grouping them by their shapes when they are collected for consumption.
The main varieties are:
Medium size, heart shape, and dark green skin. This variety ripens late.
Medium size and delicate skin. They are tasty and full of seeds.
Ghost Spirit Impress
The fruits are large, with few seeds and have fast growth.
The skin of the fruits is smooth and large. The pulp is delicious and with a delightful aroma. The shape may be reminiscent of a pineapple. This variety is characteristic of the Portuguese island of Madeira.
The skin is relatively smooth and almost without bumps with no bumps or marks.
Custard apple season
As I have already mentioned, according to recent data, Spain is the leading producer of these foods, so it is interesting to know the harvest season in the country where it is mainly produced.
The season in Andalusia, one of the most producing areas of these foods, is between September and January. However, there are data on seasons that have lasted longer. That is, we find a winter fruit.
You can check the calendar of the fruit season to be able to consume these foods at their most optimal moment. In addition, when they are in season, they provide us with more benefits for our health; they have a better aroma and are tastier, among other advantages.
How do you eat custard apples?
Fruits are always best eaten fresh and raw. This tropical fruit is straightforward; you must cut it in half and eat its pulp with a spoon, avoiding the seeds, which are very easy to separate due to their size.
It is better to eat it ripe since, in this way, we obtain all its beneficial nutritional properties for our health, in addition to being in a more optimal state of taste and smell.
In addition to eating this Kurdish food, different recipes for ice creams, jams or fruit smoothies are made from it alone or in combination.
How to preserve custard apples?
It is a food that is not easy to preserve. It ripens very soon, although it must be ripe to eat it in its perfect state, and its ideal maturation is done at room temperature. Low temperatures below 10ºC damage the quality of this fruit.
When it is ripe, it goes from having a dark green outer part to becoming lighter or even yellowish. It also stays very soft.
If these sweet fruits ripen more than necessary and begin to take on black tones, it is not a sign that they are in bad condition. The leather can protect the interior, preserving its quality until after a few days.
When it is in an optimal state of maturation, the custard apple can be used to elaborate different homemade recipes, such as jams and ice cream for smoothies.
Its main content is water, as with most fruits. In addition, custard apple is an excellent energy source because it contains 20% carbohydrates, mainly glucose and fructose.
Custard apple has a relatively high caloric value due to its high sugar content, although it is low in protein and fat. Although it has a high caloric value, they do not have too many calories since it is a large-volume fruit.
Cherimoyas are rich in minerals such as potassium; the primary vitamin is vitamin C, which adds an antioxidant action beneficial to health.
It also provides us with lower amounts of vitamin B, calcium and iron; although in a low proportion, it also includes zinc, iodine, copper and manganese.
Average nutritional value per 100 grams of custard apple
|Vitamin A||0.01 mg|
|White. B1||0.07 mg|
|White. B2||0.11 mg|
|Vit. B3||1.23 mg|
|C vitamin||14.20 mg|
Benefits of custard apple
These foods have very beneficial nutritional properties for our health. Because of its flavour, aroma and its benefits to our health.
Cherimoyas are highly recommended foods for the whole family’s diet, and among their benefits, we can distinguish the following:
1. Regulates blood pressure
Fruits and vegetables help us regulate blood pressure. However, in this case, thanks to its potassium content and also magnesium and also low in sodium, it is associated with low levels of hypertension.
2. A natural laxative
These foods become fantastic intestinal regulators thanks to their natural fibre content. It prevents constipation in addition to helping us regulate cholesterol in our blood.
3. Promotes eye health
Custard apple provides lutein which is an excellent nutrient for eye health. It also protects us against conditions that can cause vision problems.
Similarly, lutein can protect against other eye problems, such as cataracts. Some studies associate lutein and zeaxanthin with the risk of suffering from cataracts. In this way, it identifies people with the highest levels of lutein in their blood had a 27% lower risk of developing cataracts than those with the lowest levels.
4. Helps against anemia
Like the sugar apple, custard apples are beneficial as an aid against anemia, thanks to their energy content and iron and vitamin C contribution. It is also a natural energizer to boost us in moments of physical decline.
5. Help with weight loss diets
In addition to being a breath rich in water and fibre, it is a food that, by composition, acts as a natural satiating agent. Due to their low-fat content, they are also recommended in weight loss diets.
6. Nourishes the immune system
Thanks to its vitamin A and c content, this fruit has an antioxidant effect and aids the immune system.
7. Antioxidant fruit
Cherimoya is loaded with antioxidants. They are in charge of fighting free radicals in your body. High free radicals can cause oxidative stress associated with chronic diseases.
The nutrients of this fruit, such as flavonoids, carotenoids and vitamin C, stand out for their powerful antioxidant effects.
8. on an excellent digestion
It is a fruit of good digestion thanks to its nutritional composition, rich in healthy fibre. Therefore, it is recommended for people of all ages, especially those with digestive difficulties.
9. Nourish our nervous systems
It contains B vitamins such as vitamin B6 (pyridoxine). In addition, this vitamin plays a vital role in creating neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. These nutrients help regulate mood.
According to a study done in Massachusetts in a group of 251 older adults, it was found that low levels of vitamin B6 in the blood are directly related to depression, especially in adults.
For all this, cherimoya has become one of the fruits essential to our diet, considering that it is a deliciously sweet fruit that also provides different health benefits.
My name is Ellie Lauderdale, MD and I am USA based professional Nutritionist .
I am a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and board certified specialist in sports dietetics who is trained in integrative medicine. I have worked with hundreds of clients, from those suffering with chronic disease to professional and olympian athletes. My goal is to help optimize you from the inside so that you can feel, perform, and look your best on the outside.