Red custard apple (Annona reticulata, sugar apple, custard apple, bullock’s heart) is a close-but-kooky relative of sweetsop varieties like A. muricata and A. squamosa. The Red Custard Apple is cast off as the Ugly Duckling of Annonas, but no tropical food forest would be complete without it. It is native to the West Indies, Central America, and South Mexico, and a cultivated crop from southern Mexico to Peru and Brazil. The Annona reticulata tree grows upright and irregular at times. It droops with oblong, semi-evergreen leaves that shed upon any inconvenient winter chill. In the springtime, Annona reticulata blooms with clusters of yellow-green flowers. In the summertime, custard apple fruit forms polygonal plates of red, brown, and yellow.
Red Custard Apples can vary in size, shape, quality, and taste. That makes it difficult to gauge a good first impression of the Red Custard Apple, since you never know what you’ll get. The Red Custard Apple tree fruits heavily when popular varieties of the sugar apple tree aren’t in season yet. Red annona fruits should be picked once they are ripened on the tree, since they will not ripen well if picked green. How you enjoy red custard apples is totally up to you. You can scoop the flesh from the skin and eat it as-is, with a side of ice cream, or blended into a milkshake. The most important thing to remember with red custard apples is enjoy and accept them as you are.
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