I mentioned custard apples recently in my post about the Mangosteen and now it’s time to feature them.
We planted a few exotic fruit trees 10 – 15 years ago, not with any great ambitions of producing much of our own food but more for the interest in seeing how they went. Mostly, I have to say, the trees have been more decorative than useful. Often they don’t produce at all and when they do, the possums often get to the fruit long before we think it is ripe enough to pick. This year, though, the custard apple tree looked promising: when I took this photo a month ago, there were at least half a dozen healthy-looking fist-sized fruit. They were quite hard, however, so we still had to wait and watch.
Yesterday I looked at one of them and saw the bumps had separated, showing yellow between them. That’s the sign of ripeness, so I squeezed it – and it was so soft it almost collapsed in my hand. I picked it at once and it turned out to be a little over-ripe but still delicious. It may not have been the first we’ve ever had from the tree but it was certainly the first for some years – as I’ve said, the bananas provide more fruit than all the rest of our garden put together.
“Custard apple” is a name which is used quite loosely in our area to refer to a group of related species, all apparently native to South and Central America. A bit of research suggests our tree is more correctly called a “sugar apple” – that it is an Annona squamosa rather than the custard apple proper (Annona reticulata), cherimoya (Annona cherimola) or an atemoya (a cross of A. squamosa and A. cherimola).
The Soursop (Annona muricata) is another member of the family but is the odd one out in terms of its fruit – no-one would ever call it a custard apple!
The in-line links above all take you to wikipedia pages.
Update, October 2015: I recommended The Australian Tropical Fruits Portal Custard Apple page when I wrote my article but it seems to have vanished. The Archives of the Rare Fruit Council of Australia may be a useful alternative.