The rare and unusual-looking custard apple is packed with protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins and is virtually fat-free. Containing vitamins A and C, magnesium, potassium and vitamins B6 and B3, it is a healthy addition to your diet. Just one custard apple provides well over the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C and, with the season spanning March through to October, is a great addition to your diet almost all year round.
Exotic custard apples will liven up your fruit repertoire and tantalise your tastebuds. Reminiscent of a tropical smoothie, the custard apple boasts a unique and delicate combination of flavours, some say similar to pineapple, paw paw and guava. The custard apple has a sweet, melting white flesh with a creamy texture that gives the “custard-like” characteristic to the fruit.
Custard apples boast many of the important antioxidants, minerals and vitamins that fight free radicals and help, in particular, to minimise damage to your tissues and joints during cardiovascular exercise. Their Magnesium content can also play a major role in protecting against heart disease.
A versatile, nutritious fruit, the custard apple can be eaten as it comes, or served as an accompaniment to a variety of dishes. There are two main varieties: the Pinks Mammoth and the African Pride. Pinks Mammoth is a larger fruit, light yellow to green in colour with creaminess between the nodules that cover its outer surface. The soft white flesh inside has a sweet, melting texture and is easy to spoon out of the skin.
The African Pride has a thinner, smoother skin with a firmer flesh and more seeds, making it best for recipes and slicing.
Custard apples can be served with desserts, drinks and savoury dishes. Ideal with a fruit, cheese or nut platter; cut into segments for a prawn or seafood cocktail; pureed and added a hot curry; or blended with a variety of juices and fruits in a smoothie, they are highly versatile.
Custard apples partner well with cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, orange, honey and vanilla. Other favourites include pineapple, paw paw, mulberries, kiwi fruit and guava.
Custard Apple Facts
Custard Apples are found on a sub-tropical deciduous tree belonging to the Annonaceau family. This family contains over 2000 members around the world.
Custard Apple trees are large with sizeable, green drooping leaves.
The fruit takes between 20 and 25 weeks to reach maturity in sub-tropical climates where the days are not too warm and the nights not too cool.
The four main growing areas are found along the subtropical and tropical coast of the eastern seaboard, from the Atherton Tablelands in North Queensland to Lismore in Northern NSW. The largest growing and production area is the Sunshine Coast in South East Queensland, while the Yeppoon area in Central Queensland produces the first fruit of the season.
Selection, Serving and Storage Hints
Custard apples are only eaten when soft. Only the flesh is eaten, and skin is discarded. Choose custard apples which are mature and hard, then ripen at room temperature at home. This avoids bruising and loss of quality in transport.
They are ready to eat and at their nutritional peak when they’re just ripe with a firm softness, similar to ripe avocados. The skin becomes a dull green, with a yellowing around the nodules.
To eat, simply cut in half and scoop out the white flesh. Remove the seeds by mashing the pulp with a fork. The seed can then be picked out easily.
Eat As Is!
- Eat simply on its own. Place your thumb in the hole where the stem joins the custard apple and gently pull the fruit apart. Then, simply pull the segments out with your fingers.
- Add segments to a prawn or seafood cocktail.
- Serve wedges on a fruit/cheese/nut platter. Pineapple, paw paw, mulberries, kiwi fruit and guava pair well with the fruit.
- Complementary flavours also include cinnamon, nutmeg, lemon, orange, honey and vanilla.
Mix it, Mash it, Blend it
- Mix with sour cream or yoghurt for a parfait dish.
- Spoon into meringue cases with some cream.
- Add the pulp of a custard apple to a hot curry for some sweetness.
- Serve with yoghurt and muesli for a fresh, energy-packed breakfast.
- Mashed custard apple is ideal for toddlers.
- Sieve custard apple pulp and add to ice cream or sorbets.
- Custard apple flesh can be scooped out and blended with any of the following to make a delicious drink: orange juice, milk and coffee, strawberries, milk with nutmeg on top, ginger ale.
- Fill pancakes with custard apple pulp as a healthy sweet sensation, or blend with mashed banana and a little cream as a delicious sauce for puddings and cakes.
- Dip custard apple pieces in melted chocolate and chill in the fridge.
- Add pureed custard apple to a stir-fry for a savoury dish.
- Add pureed custard apple to salad dressing for a little extra something.
- Custard Apples ripen between 18 and 24 degrees.
- Fruit won’t ripen below 14 degrees.
- During winter, store fruit in a warm area and cover to hold in their warmth.
- Shelf life is short, so buy small quantities more frequently.
- Pulp and sliced fruit can be refrigerated for up to 4-5 days if kept in an airtight jar or with plastic covering the surface of the pulp to help prevent browning.
CUSTARD APPLE HEALTH AND NUTRITIONAL BENEFITS
Nutritional composition per 100 grams.
* 100% of recommended RDI
- Custard Apples are a well-balanced food containing protein, fibre, minerals, vitamins, energy and minimal fat. They’re an excellent source of vitamin C, dietary fibre, vitamin B6, magnesium and potassium, with some B2 and complex carbohydrates.
- 100 g of flesh provides over 110% of your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. Even a small custard apple weighs around 250 grams, so if eaten daily you’ll no longer need a vitamin C supplement to meet your daily needs!
- Very little vitamin C is stored in your body, so this vitamin should be taken in every day. As it’s lost from food during cooking, obtaining it in fresh food is best. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, helping neutralise unstable substances, known as free radicals, which can damage cells.
- 100 g of custard apple flesh also supplies almost 10 % of your daily magnesium needs. Magnesium, plays a major role in allowing your muscles to relax, and is one of the most important nutrients to protect against heart disease.
- As potassium isn’t stored in your body, anyone consuming even moderate amounts of caffeine or alcohol or having too many processed foods in their diet will benefit from extra potassium. Custard apples provide a valuable source of potassium, which is most effective in the presence of vitamin B.
For further information, visit:
Australian Custard Apple Growers Association