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Cooking with Annona Atemoya (Annona cherimoya × A. squamosa); Sugar Apple (A. squamosa)

Sugar Apple Annona

There are several types Annonas that can be grown here in south Florida, but only two of those are commercially available.  One is the Sugar Apple, and the other is the Atemoya. 


Sugar apples can have either green or red/purple skin, and atemoyas have green skin.


Both have flesh with a delightfully, sweet flavor, and soft consistency. The sugar apple has a soft texture and is separated into loose sections. The atemoya, also known as custard apple, has a smoother texture that is most often spooned out from the rind, like custard, and has little definition in the segments.

Selecting Fruit

Florida annona are picked mature from the tree, and allowed to ripen at room temperature. If annonas are picked before the fruit is mature, the fruit will not ripen. Growers know the fruit is mature and ready to pick by several ways.  The green sugar apples and green atemoyas  will turn to a yellowish green color. In red atemoyas, the red color deepens and takes on a purple hue. In both, the fruits becomes covered with a white or bluish bloom. (Bloom is a very thin waxy layer produced by the fruit for protection. This bloom is often seen on plums, apples, grapes, etc. and is not harmful.) Another characteristic of maturity is that the area between the scales widens and turns yellowish. When selecting fruit at the market look for these characteristics to select the best fruit.



To ripen an annona, simply place it on the counter at room temperature and wait about 2-4 days. Gently squeeze the fruit - just a little - each day until the fruit is soft to the touch. When the fruit is soft, the sugars are at their peak and the fruit is ready to eat.


Use a knife to cut the fruit in half and scoop the white pulp out with a spoon. Red sugar apples will have a slight red tinge to the flesh where it meets the outer peel.

The texture of the flesh of ripe sugar apples is soft and composed of loose sections each surrounding a dark, brown seed. The flesh of the atemoya is softer and with a more uniform consistency with little or no sections, and the seeds are embedded throughout the flesh. The seeds that should not be eaten. (You can easily sprout the un-refrigerated seeds and grow your own annonas!)



Do not store UNRIPE annonas in the refrigerator as they will not ripen once they have been in the refrigerator.


Let the fruit ripen/soften on the counter and then place the unpeeled fruit in a container or bag and loosely cover it. The fruit will keep for about 2-5 days refrigerated.


Annonas can also be frozen, but the texture of the flesh changes greatly. Frozen annonas are best used in shakes or ice creams. To freeze, peel and seed your annonas and place in a freezer bag or container to keep for about a year.



Counts and Weights

Annonas can range in weight from 4 oz. to over 2 lbs! The non edible part of the fruit, the seeds, rind and stem, account for around 1/4 - 1/3 of the weight of the fruit.



Sugar apples and annonas are very similar in their nutritional content. Since the shapes of annonas vary considerably, the following figures are approximations.


One approx. 3" fruit weighs about 150 grams and contains about 100 grams of pulp, or about 1/2 - 2/3 cup of pulp.

​The 100 grams of pulp contains: 94 calories, .3 grams fat,  2.1 grams protein

24 grams carbohydrate

247 milligrams potassium

4.4 grams fiber

Source: USDA NDB Number: 09321


This fruit is mostly enjoyed fresh, with a spoon. Period! The flesh of the fruit is soft and so does not hold it's shape when handled a lot. It makes a tasty addition to a fruit salad but do not toss the salad too much as the fruit can get mushy. It makes wonderful drinks such as smoothies and shakes, as well as a delicious ice cream!


Atemoya Sorbet

1 c. water

1/2 c. sugar

2 atemoyas

1/2 c. fresh orange juice

1/4 c fresh lime juice

pinch nutmeg

Bring to boil sugar and water to make a simple syrup. Simmer 5 minutes. Cool. Cut fruit in half. Scoop out pulp and deseed. Puree fruit with orange juice in blender. Strain. Combine syrup, fruit puree, lime juice and spices. Freeze in ice cream freezer according to manufacturer's directions. Serves 6. (This is also tasty made with sapodilla!)

Recipe from Tropical Fruit Cookbook, Caloosa Rare Fruit Exchange






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