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Annona fruits are heart-shaped or round, and measure between 5 and 13 centimeters in diameter. The fruits have a thick brown stem and have an appearance like a pine cone. They are compound fruits, like pineapples, with knobby segments covered in a thin, deep pink or purple skin, most often covered in a light, silvery bloom. Most fruits segments will contain a hard, oblong, black seed that is inedible. A few seedless cultivars exist, but they tend to be of lesser quality. The creamy white pulp is aromatic and has a succulent, custard-like consistency, with a sweet, tropical flavor.
Annona fruit is available year-round in tropical climates and in the mid-summer and through the fall months in more temperate environments.
Annona, or more commonly known as Sugar Apple, is a tropical aggregate fruit botanically classified as Annona squamosa. It is the most widely cultivated Annona species. The fruit is related to the cherimoya and soursop and is often planted in home landscapes throughout the tropics. There are several different cultivars of Annona and a few named varieties such as ‘Kampong Mauve’ and ‘Purple’ or ‘Red’. They are also referred to as Custard Apple or Sweetsop, though some of the names are used interchangeably for different Annona species. It is known in Hindi as Sharifa or Seetaphal.
Annona is a good source of vitamin C, carbohydrates, calcium and phosphorus. The fruits also contain fiber, vitamin A, B-complex vitamins, iron, a small amount of protein, and the amino acids tryptophan, methionine, and lysine. Annona pulp, seeds and leaves contain beneficial flavonoids, phenolic compounds and tannins, and have antioxidant properties.
Annona fruit are typically eaten raw and chilled, as a snack or dessert. The fruit can be broken apart and the segments can be removed easily when ripe. The seeds can also be separated from the pulp using a sieve or by hand. Annona pulp can be added to fruit salads, pureed for use in ice creams and sherbets, smoothies or other beverages. It can also be used to make jams or syrups. Store Annona in the refrigerator and use within a few days.
For centuries, Annona fruit has been widely prescribed in Ayurvedic medicine for a variety of ailments. Unripe and dried fruits are antidysentric, while bark and leaves are used as an astringent and seeds have demonstrated antidiabetic properties. Research has demonstrated various health benefits in the pulp, seeds, bark and leaves of the Annona tree.
Annona are believed to be native to tropical South America and the West Indies, though the exact area of origin is unknown. Spanish explorers in the New World likely brought seeds of the Annona to the Philippines and the Portuguese introduced them to India at the end of the 16th century. The plants adapted well to the climate in Indonesia, and from there spread to Australia, southern China, Australia and Polynesia. Today, they are cultivated in most tropical regions of the world, more commonly in India, Malaysia, Brazil and the Caribbean. In the United States, they are cultivated in south Florida and Southern California. The tropical Annona fruits are most often spotted at specialty and farmer’s markets in these areas.
Recipes that include Annona. One is easiest, three is harder.
|Love My Salad||Custard apple or 'sweetsop' salad|