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Mar 06, 2017

This scaly, tropical fruit may resemble something out of science fiction movie, but it just so happens that a fragrant, tropical, creamy center hides behind the leathery exterior.

Availability & Origin
Cherimoyas, also known as custard apples, grow year-round. Domestically speaking, they only come from California and Hawaii, and are available from December through June. Beyond the U.S., they come from Central and South America and South Asia.

Appearance & Flavor
Don't let the scaly look of the green skin deter you. After slicing into a cherimoya, you'll see the white creamy flesh, which has a pleasant tropical flavor with hints of mango, banana, and coconut. Amongst the delicious center, there are black seeds. Do not eat them; they contain alkaloids and are hard enough to break a tooth. When picking your cherimoyas, a slight brown color is okay, however avoid any that are black or shriveled. Ripe ones should yield to a gentle touch and will be more brown in color. Their skin is very delicate, so you'll often find them covered by mesh bags in the store to protect them from bruising or puncture.

When ripe, they can be stored in the fridge for one or two days. Any longer will cause the fruit to lose its flavor and become more vulnerable to chill damage. Once cut, they turn brown quickly. Not to worry; to slow the browning effect, put a little orange juice on your cherimoya or put it in a lemon or lime water mixture. 

Ways to Enjoy
Room temperature or chilled, raw is the way to go. Use cherimoyas in dressings, compotes, jams, smoothies, and salads to add a new flavor to the usual. Spring is coming, so consider making unique drinks for your events. 

Cherimoyas were native to Ecuador, Colombia and Peru in their beginning. It is said that the seeds from Mexico were planted in California in the late 1800's. Fun fact: Mark Twain is quoted in The Sacramento Daily Union (October 25, 1866) saying that the cherimoya is "the most delicious fruit known to man" after a visit to Hawaii.

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