Anona/Soursop/Annona muricata

Annona muricata is native to the Andean-highland valleys. The fruit is oval, often slightly oblique, 10-20 cm long and 7-10 cm diameter, with a smooth or slightly tuberculated skin. The tree thrives throughout the subtropics at altitudes of 4,000 8,500 feet. The name derives from Quechua chirimuya, meaning ‘cold seeds’, since the seeds will germinate at higher altitudes. Though sensitive to frost, it must have periods of cool temperatures or the tree will gradually go dormant. Annona muricata L. has a large and rich history of profiting by human beings. The first people who knew about this plant species were, undoubtedly, the several Amerindian ethnic groups who lived in Central and South America. The first use attributed to it was probably as food. Today it is cultivated in many places throughout the Americas, including California, where it was introduced in 1871, and Hawaii.

As time passed, and as a consequence of the extended act of living together the man and this plant species, a series of curative properties were gradually discovered and transmitted from generation to generation by the different native peoples of the several regions in America. In the Peruvian Andes, for example, the leaves of Annona muricata L. are used in order to prepare a tea against inflammation of the mucous membranes, as the inflammation that is produced during catarrh. Moreover, its seeds are crushed and used in order to combat a series of parasites. In the Peruvian Amazonia, the bark, roots, and leaves are used against diabetes, as well as a sedative and antispasmodic. In the Old World, Annona muricata L. has been introduced in a broad region, from Southeast China to Australia and the warm lowlands in Eastern and Western Africa. This is a common fruit in the markets of Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

The fruit is fleshy and soft, sweet, white in color, with a custard-like texture, which gives it its secondary name, custard apple. Some characterize the flavor as a blend of pineapple, mango and strawberry. Others describe it as tasting like commercial bubblegum. Similar in size to a grapefruit, it has large, glossy, dark seeds that are easily removed. The seeds are poisonous if crushed open; one should also avoid eating the skin. When ripe the skin is green and gives slightly to pressure, similar to the avocado. Ripe fruit may be kept in the refrigerator, but it is best to let immature fruits ripen at room temperature. If the skin is brown, then it is good to eat and has ripened. Fresh Chirimoya contains about 15% sugar and some vitamin C.

Manjarblanco de Chirimoya

1 large soursop (about 1 lb), peeled and chopped into 1/2″ chunks
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup (350 grams/14 ounces) manjar blanco (also known as dulce de leche, arequipe, cajeta)
Ground cinnamon

In a large bowl, beat the heavy cream on medium speed until soft peaks just form. Add manjarblanco and continue to beat on medium high until firm peaks form. Fold in the vanilla extract and chopped chirimoya. Pour into individual ramekins and chill for at least two hours. Sprinkle with ground cinnamon and serve.
Makes 4-6 servings.

Soursop Drink (Katu anoda drink)

1 pound Soursop
1 ½ cup cold water
5 tablespoon sugar, add more or less to taste
1 squeezed lime
Pinch of salt

Wash the fruit to remove any dirt or foreign matter. Peel the fruit, by hand, and set in a large mixing bowl. Add water to the fruit in the mixing bowl. Using your hand, squeeze the fruit in the water and remove all the seeds. This will take about 2-3 minutes. Blend the Soursop pulp with, cold water and sugar in blender. Add salt and lime and blend again till smooth. Add more sugar if needed. Serve chilled.

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