Cherimoya

While in Spain, I had the opportunity to try a Cherimoya, also known as Custard Apple. This was great, because this fruit is closely related to the Pawpaw, which I have been greatly intrigued with recently. The pawpaw is supposed to taste roughly like vanilla or banana custard, or at least, is the closest thing to a banana we can grow in most of North America. While it is technically only rated to USDA Zone 5, with my sheltered city site and sufficient winter mulching, I may be able to make a go of it here in ND.

 Cherimoya fruit, showing the oft-discussed vaguely reptilian “scales” on the outer surface.

 The fruit, halved.

 Each scale on the outside corresponds to an inner cell, containing a seed. Here’s the seeds from 1/5 of the fruit.

As the pawpaw is reportedly good for both fresh eating and baking (I’ve appended Euell Gibbons‘ classic pie recipe), the cherimoya should have roughly the same uses – Regan Daley reports it makes a wonderful ice cream.

However, I was unprepared for how very sweet the cherimoya was – practically pie-like already, straight from the shell. As I strongly prefer tart things, by the time I finished my one-fifth slice, the sugar had got to me and I didn’t want to see any more of this fruit for quite a while. Now I understand that fruit explorer who spoke of the season’s one pawpaw pie being enough… and am reconsidering giving the limited planting space to something else. Very good to know!

Euell Gibbons’ Pawpaw Pie


Standard warnings about eating uncooked eggs apply.

In a saucepan, mix together 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 envelope unflavored gelatin, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Stir in 2/3 cup milk and 3 slightly-beaten egg yolks. Cook and stir until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in 1 cup strained pawpaw pulp. (My cherimoya would EASILY have made this amount, once the seeds were removed.) Chill this mixture until it mounds slightly when spooned, perhaps 20 minutes in the refrigerator. Shortly before the mixture is sufficiently set, beat the 3 egg whites until they form soft peaks; gradually add 1/4 cup of sugar, then beat to the stiff peak stage. Fold the pawpaw mixture into the egg whites, then pour into a 9″ graham cracker crust (or parfait glasses.) Chill until firm.

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2 thoughts on “Cherimoya

  1. salobrena says:

    I read with interest your story of the Cherimoya as I live in one of the few places on earth that actually grow them. I live in Southern Spain, and Cherimoya is what we grow everywhere here. I myself, find them sickeningly sweet and in my 8 years here have only tried 2 or 3. If every you would like some seeds, just drop me an email. I would be happy to send them on. I have pictures on my blog of the cherimoya on the tree.

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