Cherimoyas are egg-shaped, globe-shaped or heart-shaped with an unusual velvety, thin skin that is light green in color. The white pulp offers a mild flavor likened to a blend of banana, vanilla, mango, papaya, pineapple and coconut. The refreshing texture is soft, smooth and melting almost custard-like, hence the name custard apple. The flesh is studded with large, black, inedible seeds. Some varieties, though not all, produce scaly depressions on their skin, where the more depressions that develop will indicate a seedier fruit.
Cherimoya season starts in late fall and runs through winter and spring.
The Cherimoya, pronounced cher-uh-MOY-uh, is a subtropical fruit also known as Custard Apple or Chirimoya. Botanically classified as Annona cherimola, it is a fast-growing evergreen tree native to the mountains of Ecuador and Peru. The name "cherimoya" is derived from the Quechua (Incan) word, "chirimuya", meaning "cold seeds" as the seeds will germinate in altitudes up to six thousand feet. A new hybrid, atemoya, pronounced ah-teh-MOH-ee-yah, is a cross between the Cherimoya and the sugar apple also known as Sweetsop.
High in calories, 300 grams of fruit has about 170 calories. High in fiber, it is a good source of vitamin C and calcium, plus contains niacin and phosphorus.
Ripe Cherimoya have a delicate, sweet flavor and texture that is most apparent when eaten fresh. Cut chunks of Cherimoya and add to salads with kiwi, strawberry, papaya or other tropical fruit. Scoop flesh from skin and blend into smoothies and shakes. Add mashed pulp to yogurt or freeze with coconut milk into semifreddo. Top puff pastry with slices of Cherimoya and fresh berries, and bake into a tart. Harvest fruits when skin turns slightly yellow or pale green, or when skin gives a little to touch. To store, keep at room temperature until ripe. Wrap ripe fruit and refrigerate up to four days.