Cherimoyas are a very unusual type of fruit, native to the Andes mountain range in South America. The mountain area stretches from Colombia to Bolivia. Cherimoya is an Inca word meaning “cold breast”. The fruit is so called because the Incas used cherimoyas to pacify children. There are only a few places in the world with the correct temperature, marine moisture and climate to grow this fruit.
Cherimoyas need a great deal of care to be able to thrive. They require hand pollinating, delicate handling and careful monitoring. They do not thrive in places that have fluctuations in temperature or heavy winds and harsh sunlight. Cherimoyas are now cultivated in certain parts of Southern California.
Cherimoyas have a very unusual appearance; they look almost prehistoric. They have a velvety flesh that combines the flavors of banana, strawberry and pineapple. The cherimoya is also considered to be a very romantic fruit due to its heart shaped appearance. The Incas considered it to be an aphrodisiac, and it is said to improve fertility.
The cherimoya season extends from January through June. You will know when they are ripe because they are slightly soft to the touch. They are quick to ripen at room temperature and should be checked frequently to avoid over-ripening. Ripe fruits are black-green and soft to the touch, like pears or avocados. If they are not eaten when ripe, it is best to store cherimoyas in a refrigerator, where they can be kept for two to four days.
You can eat a cherimoya by slicing it in half or into wedges. Then, simply scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Some cherimoya experts add a dash of lime to heighten the sweetness of the fruit. You should never eat the skin or the seeds. Cherimoyas are rich in calcium, vitamin C and niacin.
Cherimoyas are delicious when used to make fruit smoothies or mixed with yogurt or ice cream. They are also perfect to mix into fruit salads with other fruits. Many people find eating cherimoyas while drinking wine exquisite, as the taste is very complimentary. Whichever way you eat the cherimoya, it has one of the most delicious and sophisticated flavors available.