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Purple Sugar Apples
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The Purple Sugar Apple is a tropical, or sometimes subtropical, compound fruit that is roughly the size of a baseball. It has a thick velvety rind composed of knobby segments that give it a scale-like appearance. The exterior is dark bluish-purple with magenta accents along the margins of the scaly plates. The inner flesh is juicy and succulent with a creamy white color that has pale purple tinges just under the skin. It comes apart in fleshy conical segments that house large inedible black seeds. When fully ripe, the Purple Sugar Apple gives off a sugary sweet aroma and is soft enough to be split open with just your fingers. Its flavor is akin to tropical fruits like mango and pineapple with berry-like tones and a noticeable vanilla custard finish.
The Purple Sugar Apple is available mid-summer into fall.
The Purple Sugar Apple is also referred to as a variety of sweetsop or custard apple, and in some countries simply, annon. Botanically known as Annona squamosa, it is the most widely grown of its species including its close cousins the cherimoya and atemoya. In fact, the sugar apple was crossed with a cherimoya to create the atemoya hybrid. The Purple variety can also appear reddish and may therefore be called a red sugar apple, or more specifically by its official cultivar name, the Kampong Mauve.
Like other sugar apple varieties, the Purple Sugar Apple is a good source of vitamins A and C, riboflavin, thiamine and niacin. Extracts and decoctions of the leaves can be used to aid digestive problems and rheumatic pain.
The Purple Sugar Apple is most always eaten fresh out-of-hand and it is never cooked. To prepare, the edible white pulp must be removed from the tough outer skin by scooping with a spoon or simply with your fingers. Once the pulp is cleaned of the seeds, it may be served plainly as a simple chilled dessert or used to flavor ice cream and shakes. Complimentary flavors include passion fruit, coconut, papaya, banana, citrus, ginger, berries, caramel, honey, dates, macadamia nuts, almonds, vanilla and lemongrass.
Similarly to the green variety, the seeds of the Purple Sugar Apple are toxic and used as a fish poison, lice killer, and insecticide. The leaves are also a potent natural remedy and used in the treatment of ulcers, wounds, dysentery, indigestion and rheumatic pain.
The Sugar Apple is believed to be indigenous of Central America and the West Indies where ancient Indian sculptures depict the unique tropical fruits. Common in the Tropic regions around the world, Sugar Apples also thrive along southeast and southwest coasts of Florida, the warmest parts of the state. The Sugar Apple has been studied extensively by Indian horticulturists who recognize ten different types which range in color, size, shape and flavor. The Purple variety is prized for both its superior flavor and decorative landscaping.