Also known as the bullock's heart, sugar apple, sweet sop and scaly custard apple, it is thought to have originated in South America in Ecuador and the mountains of Peru. The West Indies, and Cuba are great users of the fruit and it rivals mangoes in popularity in Cuba. Growing on small bushy trees, they resemble hand grenades in appearance, the custard apple has five known varieties, two that are widely imported Fai which are heart shaped with green skin and white, sweet scented, creamy, flesh that separates into two sections easily, the Nang also heart shaped but has yellowish green skin, with sweet flesh that is hard to divide into sections. Taking up to 3 years to grow from a seedling, custard apples can grow to 7 lbs. The fruit is grown throughout the sub-tropics including Florida and California and is supplied to the European market from Israel and India. The fruit contains large shiny brown seeds which should be discarded and not eaten.
When perfectly ripe the cherimoya has a rich flavor that is reminiscent of mango. pineapple, and banana with a hint of strawberry.
The flesh may be eaten raw, purred and used in ice cream, served as a sauce, or used in sorbets, mousses and bavaroise.
Selecting and handling when squeezed it should be slightly soft to the touch with no splits in the skin. If not quite ripe, leave it at room temperature in a dark place for a few days. To open the fruit take a sharp knife and halve or quarter the custard apple and scoop out the pulp with a spoon, discarding the seeds. Custard Apples may be kept in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days.
Season June to September