Cherimoya is a fruit which is thought to be native to Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. This fruit has spirally arranged carpels with a soft and ivory flesh, enclosed within a slightly bumpy and scaly-looking exterior. So, what does cherimoya taste like? In this article, we will answer that question, discuss cherimoya nutrition and health benefits, and also provide a couple of recipes for you to try.
Cherimoyas have a custard-like flesh and so are also known as custard apple. They are scientifically known as Annona cherimola, and belong to the Annonaceae plant family. The cherimoya tree is a fast-growing tree that can grow up to 30 feet, and it bears fruit for four to five years after planting. The tree grows well in coastal and foothill areas, but not in extreme temperatures, tropical lowlands, or very high altitudes.
Cherimoya fruits are conical or heart-shaped. They can grow four to eight inches long, and up to four inches wide. On an average, a cherimoya fruit weighs five to 18 ounces.
What Does Cherimoya Taste Like?
Cherimoya is a pulpy and delicious fruit. Cherimoyas taste mostly sweet and a bit tart, perhaps similar to a combination of banana, pineapple and strawberry. Some feel they taste like a combination of papaya and pineapple, while others feel they have tropical flavors like that of bananas, coconuts, and mangoes.
To enjoy the pleasant cherimoya taste, you should select a ripe cherimoya. It should be firm and feel heavy for its size. You should avoid black or shriveled fruit.
Ripe cherimoyas turn pale green to a light brown color, and emanate a sweet aroma like bananas. A ripe cherimoya should yield to soft pressure, and the skin should brown up a little. To ripen a cherimoya, just leave it on the counter for four to six days. Once they are completely ripe, you can refrigerate them to make them last for a few days more. But if kept for a longer time, they will lose their flavor.
The flesh is creamy, sweet, and candy-like, with a unique texture. Mark Twain referred to cherimoya as “the most delicious fruit known to man.” Ripe cherimoya tastes the best when it is eaten at room temperature, or just slightly chilled.
While the flesh is soft and sweet, the skin is inedible and its seeds are toxic. The powder of these seeds is used as a pesticide or insecticide. When mixed with grease, the powdered seeds are said to kill lice, and cure parasitic skin infections.
How to Eat Cherimoya
To eat a cherimoya, you can slice the fruit in half, and enjoy it with a spoon. Or you can just scoop out the flesh on a plate, pick out and discard the seeds, and enjoy the sweet fruit. You can make a couple of recipes with it, but cherimoya tastes best when eaten raw. You can also squeeze some lemon juice on the slice of the fruit.
In Peru, it is commonly used in ice creams and yogurt. Cherimoyas are also used in mousse or pie.
It can be used in fruit salads, smoothies, or sherbet, and can also be fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage.
Simple and Tasty Cherimoya Recipes
To prepare cherimoya, you will first need to cut the top and the bottom of the fruit. Next, peel off the skin and scoop out the flesh. Pick out the seeds and slice or chunk the flesh. Here are few simple cherimoya recipes for you to try.
Cherimoya Custard Pudding Recipe
- Flesh of 1 ripe cherimoya
- ¹⁄3 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 tablespoons of chopped pistachios
Blend the cherimoya, almond milk, and a pinch of salt, until smooth. Transfer into a glass jar and cover it.
Refrigerate the pudding for an hour. Add pistachios and serve.
Cherimoya-Papaya Smoothie Recipe
- 1 medium ripe papaya
- 1 tablespoon of honey
- Pinch of sea salt
- 1 large ripe cherimoya
- ½ cup crushed ice or 1 prefrozen banana
- 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
- 2 tablespoons of full-fat coconut milk
- Probiotic capsules, for extra boost
Prepare the cherimoya and papaya by de-seeding and peeling them. Put the fruits in a blender. Add some honey, ice, or frozen banana, and purée until smooth.
If you wish, you can add the coconut oil and a probiotic capsule. To get a thinner consistency, you can add some more ice or coconut milk. Coconut milk will give it a rich taste.
Pour into glasses and serve.
Cherimoya Nutrition Facts
A serving of 312 grams of deseeded cherimoya without skin, or one fruit without seeds and skin has 231 calories. The fruit contains two grams of fats and 12 grams of sodium. Here are some more cherimoya nutrition facts.
Cherimoya Nutrition Chart
Carbohydrates in Cherimoya
Cherimoya is high in carbohydrates, and contain 55 grams of carbs with seven grams dietary fiber. The dietary fiber provides 29% of the recommended daily intake. It offers five grams of proteins per serving.
Vitamins in Cherimoya
Cherimoya is rich in vitamin C, and provides 60% of the recommended daily intake. Vitamin C helps to heal wounds and fights against infections. Cherimoya also has a good amount of vitamin B complex compounds (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, and folate).
Minerals in Cherimoya
One cherimoya provides 24% of the recommended daily intake of potassium, 12% of magnesium, 13% of manganese, 11% of copper, and four percent of zinc. It also has two percent of calcium and five percent of iron. Cherimoya contains more minerals per weight compared to the other fruits. It is used in Mexican medicine to treat convulsions and anxiety.
10 Health Benefits of Cherimoya
As we can see, cherimoya is packed with nutrition. Let’s now take a look at how cherimoya benefits health.
1. Improves brain health
The vitamin B6 present in cherimoya helps keep up GABA neurochemical levels in the brain. High gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels help reduce nervous irritability, tension, and headaches, as well as improve brain function. It also may protect against Parkinson’s disease. Other components like potassium and folate also help offer neurological benefits. Folate reduces the risk of occurrences of Alzheimer’s disease and cognitive decline, while potassium enhances cognition, concentration, and neural activity.
2. Increases immunity
Cherimoya has good amounts of vitamin C, which is a water-soluble antioxidant. It is known for increasing immunity, and providing protection against various infections like cold and flu. Vitamin C has various other benefits in terms of reproductive health, eye health, absorption of iron in the body, and maintenance of bones and teeth, among many others.
3. Promotes cardiovascular health
Cherimoya has good amounts of soluble fiber as well, which helps promote cardiovascular health. Soluble fiber can reduce low-density lipoprotein (LDL), or bad cholesterol, by binding with cholesterol particles in the digestive system, and moving them out of the body before they get absorbed.
4. Relieves insomnia
A magnesium-deficient person may suffer from insomnia. Cherimoya has good amounts of magnesium that can help reduce sleep disorders. It improves the quality of sleep.
5. Controls heart rate and blood pressure
The high potassium and soluble fiber content in cherimoya improve heart health. Potassium helps control heart rate and blood pressure. It also protects from strokes and hypertension. Adequate amounts of potassium are required to maintain a normal heart rhythm. However, an excess of this mineral can be detrimental to health, and cause hyperkalemia.
Seamus Whelton, a medical student at the Tulane University School of Medicine, researched on the relation between dietary fiber and blood pressure. After analyzing the data from 25 clinical trials, he concluded that adding fiber to a person’s diet has a positive effect on blood pressure.
6. May protect from cancer
Cherimoyas are rich in antioxidants and have anticancer properties. The fiber content in cherimoya helps clean the colon and liver, and may protect from cancer. A study published in the Journal of Natural Products and a similar survey conducted by the Catholic University of South Korea, stated that the cherimoya tree has a greater capacity to kill colon cancer cells. According to the study, a compound extracted from the cherimoya tree was effective in killing malignant cells in 12 types of cancers, including breast, colon, prostate, pancreatic, and lung. Also, it killed only the cancer cells without harming healthy cells.
7. Supports the digestive system
Being rich in fiber, cherimoya eases digestion and prevents conditions like constipation.
8. Prevents cravings and mood swings
Foods that have a high glycemic index get absorbed easily into the bloodstream and cause blood sugar and insulin levels to spike and drop. Cherimoya has a lower glycemic index and gets slowly absorbed into the bloodstream, preventing sugar cravings and mood swings. Normal GABA levels help control mood swings, and the vitamin B6 in cherimoya can help control mood swings that occur due to lowered GABA levels.
9. Delays signs of aging
Consuming cherimoya regularly helps delay signs of aging like wrinkles, fine lines, and blemishes. It also helps reduce the pigmentation caused by free radicals. This is due to the vitamin C and antioxidants present in the fruit.
10. Helps have lustrous hair
The oil extracted from the cherimoya seeds is good for wavy and coarse hair. Cherimoya seed oil hydrates the scalp to make hair lustrous and shiny.
Cherimoya is a delicious fruit with many health benefits. Although cherimoyas are tasty, consume the fruit in moderation, as they contain fructose which may be harmful when taken in excessive amounts.
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