Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Custard Apple

Also known as a Cherimoya here. Have you ever eaten one of these before?  They're not very common in the supermarkets.  They grow in sub tropical climates; I think ours come from Australia but they're also commonly grown in Southeast Asia, Taiwan, India & Africa.

I'd describe the taste as a combination of mild mango, banana and a touch of apple.  It really is a lovely taste and it has a creamy texture as the name suggests.

Nutritionally it has an excellent source of Vitamin C, a good amount of dietary fibre and respectable amounts of  of Vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium.  Not exactly a superfood, but definitely a tasty fruit!

Not only is the fruit nutritionally sound, the leaves and bark of the plant it grows on is used in natural remedies.  The leaves are used as a tonic for cold or digestive remedy; it can also be added to baths to aid rheumatic pain such as tired muscles and aching joints.  The bark and roots are given as a tonic to halt diarrhea .  The root itself can be administered as a drastic treatment for dysentery.  The seeds are toxic and can be crushed to treat head lice. Very interesting!

As I don't eat them very frequently, I have never used them to cook with or use them in a recipe; I usually just enjoy them as is.  To serve, I usually slice it in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.  As you can see you have to dodge quite a few stones.  I imagine they would make quite a tasty dessert if you choose to use it in recipes; I did find one recipe for Custard Apple cream which looks very nice from the Australian Custard Apple Growers Association website.

Custard Apple Cream
3tsps gelatine
1/3 cup boiling water
500g soft light cream cheese
½ cup caster sugar
190ml cream
2 custard apples, cut into segments, deseeded and pureed with a squeeze of lemon
Dissolve gelatine in one-third of a cup of boiling water. In a bowl beat softened cream cheese thoroughly then add gelatine mixture, caster sugar and cream. Add custard apple puree and beat until smooth. Pour into dessert glasses or pots. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

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