What’s that food?

Looking like a spiky avocado, the soursop fruit is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and the Caribbean, and it can be eaten in much the same way as an avocado. Its scientific name is Annona muricata, and is considered one of the ‘custard apple’ fruits. It develops on evergreen trees and can grow to be as large as 12 inches long.

When unripe it is a dark green with a tough prickly exterior rind, and as it ripens it will lighten in colour (sometimes gaining a yellowish tint) and soften. As the custard apple moniker suggests, the inside of the fruit is creamy white and has black or dark brown seeds. Eating soursop is as simple as washing the fruit, cutting it in half and scooping out the flesh. The seeds should be discarded. Its taste has been compared to pears, pineapple, strawberries, and lycee and its texture similar to banana. There is, however, a slight acidic taste to it, hence the soursop name.

The Annona muricata is now grown around the world in tropical climes and uses of the fruit vary from place to place. In Indonesia, by boiling soursop pulp in water and adding sugar until the mixture hardens a sweetmeat, called dodol, sirsak is made. In the Philippines, soursop is called guyabano, derived from the Spanish guanábana, and is eaten as is, or used to make juices, smoothies, or ice cream. As well, the leaf has been used in tenderizing meat. In Cambodia, it is called tearb barung, literally ‘western custard-apple fruit.’ Popular in Malaysia, it is used as one of the ingredients in a common dessert called Ais Kacang, which is shaved ice with various toppings.

The fruit contains significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2, and is high in fiber. Unfortunately, as with many exotic fruits, there have been claims that soursop and its leaves can be a cure-all for many diseases, but there are no significant studies to back up those claims. It’s best just to enjoy the fruit for its taste.

About Cheryl Young

A “Jill of all trades” describes Cheryl to a T. From operating her own handyperson company, to selling luxury cars, to working as a film and TV crew member, her resume is diverse. But her dream as a kid was to be a journalist and she started down that path many years ago at CBC Charlottetown. Returning to her journalism roots, she’s excited to be editing Salty’s content and occasionally writing herself.

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