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cherimoya

Pronunciation: [chehr-uh-MOY-ah]

A tropical-American fruit belonging to the genus Annona, the cherimoya (A. cherimola) is one of several members of the Annona family, including soursop and sweetsop. This large tropical fruit (called custard apple in Britain) tastes like a delicate combination of pineapple, papaya and banana. Irregularly oval in shape, the cherimoya has a leathery green skin that has a scaly pattern not unlike large, overlapping thumbprint indentations. The flesh, peppered with large, shiny black seeds, is cream-colored and the texture of firm custard. Though Spain is the world's largest producer, cherimoyas are now grown in California and are available from November through May. Purchase fruit that's firm, heavy for its size and without skin blemishes; avoid those with brown splotches. Store at room temperature until ripe (they will give slightly with soft pressure), then refrigerate, well wrapped, up to 4 days. Serve cherimoyas well chilled. Simply halve, remove the seeds and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. Cherimoyas contain a fair amount of niacin, iron and vitamin C.