WHAT’S A CHERIMOYA?
When our colleague Hannah Kaminsky mentioned that cherimoya was her favorite fruit, we were curious. Depending on where you live, you may not come across this heart-shaped subtropical fruit often.
We had to head to a Latin American supermarket uptown. But seek it out we did, and the trip was worth it. The fruit’s blend of banana, mango, passionfruit and pineapple notes is luscious. The ivory-colored flesh is creamy, similar to a ripe peach.
Also called a custard apple in the U.S., cherimoya is believed to have originated in the Andes Mountains. The name originates from the Quechua (Inca) word chirimuya, meaning “cold seeds” (because the seeds germinate at high altitudes). It grows as a shrub or tree.
A cherimoya. Now you know! Photo courtesy Baldor Food.
HOW TO BUY & SERVE CHERIMOYA
The pale green, shingled skin must be handled with care to avoid bruising. Choose unblemished fruit that is firm and allow it to ripen at room temperature.
As it ripens, the skin will turn a darker green and will yield to gentle pressure. Refrigerate soft fruit and consume it as soon as possible for the best flavor.
To serve, chill the cherimoya, cut it in half, spoon out the seeds and eat the flesh with a spoon. It can also be turned into desserts, such as crêpes, custard (hence the name “custard apple)”, dessert sauce (purée), fruit salad (as with apples, dip cut fruit in lemon or orange juice to prevent darkening), mousse, pie filling, pudding and sorbet.
You can freeze the cherimoya and eat it as ice cream, from the shell. Definitely try this!
And you can drink it. Whip up a shake, smoothie, cherimoya Daiquiri or other fruity cocktail.
To usher in spring, which began today, make Hannah Kaminsky’s tropical cocktail or smoothie, Cherimoya Lava Flow.
RECIPE: CHERIMOYA COCKTAIL OR SMOOTHIE,
THE CHERIMOYA LAVA FLOW
From Hawaii, where her local farmers market has plenty of cherimoyas, Hannah writes: “It’s a pricy treat to be sure,” even though grown locally. Her favorite way to enjoy the ripe, custard-like flesh is to dig in with a spoon.
“With an overripe fruit, though,” she advises, “the only thing one one can do is blend and drink it. That’s where the idea to create a tropical shake came from, playing off the classic umbrella drink, the lava flow.
“Fiery red rivulets of strawberry ‘lava’ flow throughout a classic coconut-pineapple rendition of this refreshing island staple, finished with a kiss of light rum. The sweet, creamy richness of cherimoya transforms the drink into an exotic new experience, which is just as luscious with or without the booze.
“In lieu of fresh cherimoya, you can substitute either 1 medium banana or 2/3 cup young coconut meat for a different, yet still delicious, taste.”
Of course, you can leave out the rum for a tropical smoothie. Substitute an equal amount of pineapple juice.
RECIPE: CHERIMOYA LAVA FLOW
Ingredients For 2 Servings
For The Strawberry Lava Sauce
1. PREPARE the strawberry sauce first by combining the strawberries, sugar and lime juice in a small saucepan over low heat. Cook gently for about 10 minutes, just until the berries have softened and the sugar dissolved. Transfer to a blender and thoroughly purée so that no chunks of fruit remain. Strain out the seeds if desired and set aside.
2. RINSE and dry the blender bowl and return it to the base. Slice the cherimoya in half and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh, discarding the black seeds as you encounter them. Add the cherimoya to the blender, along with the pineapple, coconut milk and 1/4 cup of rum. Blend on high speed until completely smooth. Add more rum to taste.
3. DIVIDE the cocktail between two glasses and drizzle the strawberry “lava” into each one, aiming for the sides of the glass to create the greatest visual impact. Serve with a tall straw and an additional wedge of fresh pineapple for garnish.