Cherimoya is a fruit that I had my doubts about at the beginning when I came to Ecuador.
It was so strange in shape, form and texture that it took some time to learn to really enjoy eating it.
But after learning about its health benefits, I knew I had to give it another try.
The name of Cherimoya, or Chirimoya in Ecuador, comes from indigenous languages of the Andes.
The name is a Spanish version of the original local name and in Ecuadorian Kichwa the fruit is called Chirimuyu.
Chiri meaning cold and muyu seeds.
In Kichwa there is neither vowel e nor o but only three vowels, a,i and u.
In other words, it is a plant of cold areas with large and plentiful seeds.
|By Hannes Grobe 21:17, 5 November 2006 (UTC) (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons|
What is Cherimoya
Cherimoya is the fruit of the species Annona cherimola that is generally thought to be native to the Andes.
Mark Twain called the cherimoya “the most delicious fruit known to men”.
Today cherimuya is grown throughout South Asia, Central America, South America, Southern California, Portugal, southern Andalucia and South of Italy.
Cherimoya’s fruit is oval and often slightly oblate.
It has a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin.
The fruit flesh is white and creamy and it has large number of dark brown seeds embedded in it.
It is fleshy and soft, sweet with sherbet-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple.
There are people who say that cherimoya tastes like a blend of banana, pineapple, papaya, peach and strawberry.
Others describe the taste like commercial bubblegum.
When ripe it can be chilled and then eaten with spoon, which has earned cherimoya yet another name, the ice-cream fruit.
In other words, Cherimoya’s fragrant is unique and it tastes delicious.
To prepare it, wash fruit in cold running water; gently mop it with dry paper.
Then cut the fruit lengthwise and eat it scooping with a spoon, discard the seeds and the peel.
The fruit is better eaten out of hand on its own and doesn’t need any add-ons or seasonings.
But if you wish to you can eat the pulp pureed and mixed with other fruits in salads.
Or it can be also used on ice-cream toppings.
Cherimoya Smoothie Recipes
- 1 medium cherimoya, peeled and deseeded (about 1 cup fruit)
- 2 small apples, cored
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 8 ounces filtered water
- 1 small cherimoya, peeled and deseeded (about 1/2 cup fruit)
- 1 medium peach, pitted
- 1/2 cup raspberries
- 3 cups fresh baby spinach
- 8 ounces filtered water
- 1 medium ripe papaya
- 1 large ripe cherimoya
- 1/2 cup crushed ice or 1 pre-frozen banana
- 1 Tbsp. honey
- 2 Tbsp. full fat coconut milk, or to desired consistency (Optional)
Facts about Cherimoya
The tree can be found in the tropics at altitudes of 4,300 to 8,500 ft.
It is sensitive to frost but needs periods of cool temperatures or it will gradually go dormant.
Kichwas say that cherimoya doesn’t stand snow but it likes to see it in the distance.
Cherimoya is a small-sized tree, grows to about 15 to 30 feet tall with dense foliage, and bears fruits after 4-5 years of plantation.
At their natural habitat, cherimoya flowers are pollinated by insects.
At its natural habitat, cherimoya season lasts from November until May.
Usually, the fruit is handpicked by clipping on reaching maturity.
In the markets, buy fresh, firm, medium-sized, uniform fruits featuring greenish-yellow color and full for their size.
Ripe fruits just yield to gentle pressure.
Avoid those with broken skin, surface blemishes and overly-ripen ones as they stay poorly.
Once at home, keep mature fruits in a fruit basket at room temperature until them ripe.
Cherimoya has a very short shelf life.
Once ripen, it quickly deteriorates at room temperature.
As in bananas, whole cherimoya cannot either be stored inside the refrigerator for a long period as they sustain chilling injury to skin and flesh.
However, juiced or pureed fruit may be kept inside the refrigerator for several weeks.
Cherimoya and your health
Cherimoya contains an impressive list of essential nutrients, vitamins, anti-oxidants and minerals.
It calorie value is equivalent to that of mangoes; 100 g of fresh fruit pulp provides about 75 calories.
Cherimoya, however, contains no saturated fats or cholesterol but charasterically contains a good amount of dietary fiber (about 3g per 100g) that helps to prevent absorption of cholesterol in the gut.
The fiber also helps to protect the mucous membrane of the colon from exposure to toxic substance by binding cancer-causing chemicals in the colon.
The fruit contains several poly-phenolic antioxidants; among them the most prominent are annonaceous acetogenins such as asimicin and bullatacinare that are powerful cytotoxins and have been found to have anti-cancer, anti-malaria, and anti-helminthes properties.
Cherimoya is very rich in vitamin C which helps the human body to develop resistance against infectious agents and to scavenger harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals from the body.
In addition to all this the fruits are a good source of B-complex vitamins, especially the vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and the 100g of fresh fruit provides 0,257mg or up to 20% of daily-recommended levels.
Pyridoxine helps our bodies to keep up GABA neurochemicals in the brain, high GABA levels have a calming down effect in nervous irritability, tension and headache.
The fruit also has a well-balanced sodium-potassium ratio.
A good potassium level in the body helps to control heart rate and blood pressure thus countering the bad influences of sodium.
Cherimoya also contains more minerals weight per weight than many common fruits like apples, being rich in copper, magnesium, iron and manganese.
So, enjoy your cherimoyas and make sure to eat one a day to keep that doctor away!