Plantidote of the Day 2011-01-19
Ewwwwww!! How could anyone eat that? With a spoon and great big blissed out smile -- that's how!
Obviously, the cherimoya (cher-uh-MOY-ah) is never going to win a Beautiful Fruit contest. But beneath that scaly, leather-like exterior is one of the most delicious flavors ever. A ripe cherimoya tastes like a combination of pineapple and banana with a hint of vanilla and is very sweet, but not at all cloying. (In some places, cherimoyas are known as "ice cream trees.") The fruit's texture is like pudding; you can spoon it right from the skin into your mouth, but watch out for the big black seeds. Not only are they hard as rocks, they're also poisonous.
A native of South America, cherimoyas thrive in moderate climates all over the world, including here in Zone 10. Cherimoyas are easy to grow. They mature into big, sturdy trees, 20 to 30 feet high and often just as wide. Getting them to fruit, however, requires hand pollination and it must be done at a specific time. A pain in the keister, but totally worth it, if you ask me. California is the primary source of these fruits domestically, and few of them ever leave the state. If by some chance a cherimoya turns up in your market, it's definitely worth trying. Just wait until the skin turns dark olive green/brown (like the one in the image) and it feels soft to the touch before eating. You can thank me later.
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