Also known as the sugar-apple, the atemoya is a sweet and tart hybrid fruit from South America. It is also grown in the state of Florida as well as the West Indies. Pulpy and firm, the fruit contains several large inedible dark brown-black seeds. The fruit itself is heart-shaped, with a bumpy, vibrant green skin and pale, juicy flesh.
Creamy and smooth, the fruit's flesh resembles a desert pudding. Its taste can be compared to that of vanilla. The fruit is normally in season during the fall.
Many people may know the atemoya as the custard apple, a name that was mistakenly attributed to the plant for years. Depending on the country, the fruit may be called several different names. Some of these include Achta, mamon, and chirimorinon. Although many people know the fruit as the pineapple sugar-apple, the atemoya is not produced from pineapples.
Rich in vitamin C, atemoyas can make a tasty snack eaten frozen or raw. An average piece of the fruit contains 94 calories and less than half of one ounce (one gram) of protein. Very low in fat, the fruit contains nearly one ounce (24 grams) of carbohydrates and per serving. It also contains calcium, potassium, and other nutrients.
Though normally eaten by hand, like an apple or pear, it can be included in recipes as well. Chunks of the fruit can be finely chopped and blended to make juice, smoothies, shakes, or other creative beverages. Diced, the fruit pairs well with other sweet treats to make light fruit salads.
In Lebanon, the fruit is a popular dessert item. It is often served as an ice cream flavor that resembles piña colada. The food is also popular in Taiwan. In Israel and India, as well as in several other countries, it is used as a grafting agent for other plants.
Atemoya fruits bruise easily, and should be handled with care. Storage in the refrigerator is recommended. They should be allowed to ripen before eating for the best possible taste. The most common way to eat atemoyas is to chill them, cut them into pieces, and scoop out their smooth pulp with a spoon. The plant's toxic seeds should always be removed prior to eating.
The atemoya fruit was bred from two other tropical fruits. The sugar apple, or Annona squamosa, and the cherimoya, or Annona cherimola, were cultivated together to create this tasty fruit. Though these trees are small, they grow fast and yield heavy fruit. Atemoya fruits can grow up to six inches (15 centimeters) in length.