Cherimoya and Atemoya

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

The cherimoya and atemoya are tree fruits of species in the genus Annona, a native of tropical and subtropical South America (the soursop or guanabana and the custard apple belong to the same genus). They are medium-sized masses of fused ovaries with their seeds, enclosed in inedible green or tan skins. Like pears, they can contain gritty stone cells. Cherimoyas and atemoyas are climacteric fruit that store starch and convert it to sugar during ripening; the result is a soft, sweet, low-acid flesh with about double the calories of common temperate fruits. They owe a vaguely banana-like note to esters, and flowery and citrus notes to a number of terpenes. They must be kept warmer than 55°F/13°C until they ripen, after which they can be refrigerated for a few days. Cherimoyas and atemoyas are eaten with a spoon both chilled and frozen, and are pulped and made into drinks and sorbets.