The custard apple tree belongs to the Annonaceae family. It is native to Central America, it was introduced to Europe and the Mediterranean in the 1700s.
It is a fruit tree that supports intermediate climates, without extreme heat or cold. Its size is medium height, it can reach 10 meters in height in optimal growth conditions and bears a juicy and sweet fruit called custard apple.
Characteristics of the Cherimoya tree
The cherimoya is a perennial tree that grows slowly, has a thick and short trunk with wide branches that support velvety leaves. It develops best in temperatures above 22° centigrade and below 28° centigrade, in the coldest months it can be grown at 13° centigrade but its leaves are likely to fall.
The fruit of this tree is green on the outside and white on the inside with black seeds. The custard apple can reach 800 grams in weight, its pulp is fleshy, soft and sweet, which is mainly composed of water.
High content of vitamins. This fruit contains vitamins A and C, B1, B2 B6, calcium, iron and phosphorus. It is also rich in protein, sugars, magnesium, sodium and zinc.
Fiber content. It is rich in fiber which gives it laxative properties, improving intestinal transit.
Lowers cholesterol and blood glucose. Its high content of potassium, fiber and low percentage of sodium, favorably helps hypertensive and diabetic people.
Prevents flu and colds. The consumption of cherimoya is good for our body, it helps us avoid colds and flu, as it contains vitamin C that helps us strengthen our immune system.
It helps strengthen our bones and teeth. Its contribution of calcium helps our body to prevent dental diseases and the dreaded osteoporosis.
Prevents Parkinson’s disease. The vitamin B6 that cherimoya contains is good for our brain and protects us from diseases such as Parkinson’s disease.
Cardiovascular problems. The fiber that this fruit contains helps to improve our cardiovascular system, it also improves our blood circulation, thus avoiding heart problems and hypertension.
Rich in antioxidants. Its benefits as an antioxidant significantly help our skin, in addition to preventing the development of tumors.
Custard apple tree cultivation
- Its cultivation must be carried out in dry climates, at heights above 1000 meters above sea level and below 2000 meters above sea level.
- The soil must be moist, with a mixed granulometry and fertile, with good permeability that favors its drainage.
- The climatic zones for a good cultivation of cherimoya are those where there are no frosts or extreme heat, since they do not tolerate low or high temperatures. These extreme conditions can affect plant and fruit development.
- Strong and dry winds are unfavorable for the custard apple tree as they alter its growth and damage its structure.
- The maximum PH of the soil should be 7.5. It must also contain an adequate amount of calcium and potassium for an optimal development of the tree.
- Artificial-manual pollination must be used, in this case natural pollination does not favor the propagation of the species due to the low presence of pollinators.
- The first pruning of the custard apple tree should be done after 3 years, this is called training pruning. Because it is a plant that makes great use of sunlight, this pruning is necessary to obtain better growth. Finally, the tree is pruned for maintenance and fruiting, thus achieving a better quality of the fruits.
- For the reproduction of the custard apple tree, grafting on the seed is used.
- The custard apple should be watered and weeded frequently, being careful not to damage the roots.
- The tone of the fruit ranges from dark green to light green, this will depend on its maturation. The fruit should be harvested when ripe, this occurs when the exterior of the custard apple takes on a lighter color.
- The application of herbicides is recommended to prevent the proliferation of pests and diseases such as cochineal and root rot.
- It is advisable to keep the soil around the custard apple covered with legumes to improve the supply of nitrogen.
- To improve the quality of the fruit, it is best to correctly apply the cultivation techniques, among which we have: pollination, pruning and irrigation.
- During harvesting, blows to the fruit should be avoided, since the custard apple is sensitive to damage.
- The fruit after harvesting should be refrigerated, as it softens very quickly.
Recipe with Cherimoya
Custard apple granita
- 2 cherimoyas
- 4 tablespoons of sugar
- 3 cups of liquid milk
Peel and remove the seeds from the custard apple, place that pulp in a blender together with the liquid milk and the 4 tablespoons of sugar, blend for 1 minute and strain.
Place in a container and take to the freezer for 4 hours, remove and scrape the surface with a fork until you get a granita, serve this in separate glasses.
Children will love this recipe.
Side effects with the consumption of cherimoya
- Custard apple should be consumed in moderation since, due to its acetogenin content, it can be toxic and harmful to health.
- Its exaggerated consumption can cause diarrhea due to its high fiber content.
- Pregnant and lactating women should consult their doctor before consuming cherimoya.
This fruit has a high energy content, so its frequent consumption can cause weight gain.
The seed should not be consumed as it is highly toxic.
Do not eat the fruit when you see black spots on the outside.
Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.