I knew that I was receiving some Custard Apples – what I didn’t expect was a box of four enormous, perfect ones. I was so excited when they arrived that I unwrapped them, grabbed one out, and discovered that they were as hard as rocks. Damn.
But it made sense, as a perfectly ripe Custard Apple would need to be used immediately… and I needed to think about it for a while. So I set them aside on the kitchen bench, lid of the box jauntily perched but not on tight, and promptly forgot about them. A few days later, a fit of ‘oh-my-goodness-where-are-those-custard-apples’ was followed by ‘who-put-the-lid-tightly-on-the-box-argh-stop-cleaning-up-my-cooking-stuff’ when I opened the tightly-lidded box to find four enormous perfect ones, sitting in a box full of condensation.
I grabbed the first fruit, and promptly put my thumb clear through it. Oh dear. The other three were removed as carefully as organs for transplant and set on a plate. I knew that under-ripe Custard Apples are bitter, almost chalky, but I had no idea about over-ripe ones. The poor specimen with a hole already in it would be my test. It was gently cut open and a spoonful of the flesh scooped out. And then I passed out.
I had my answer – a just over-ripe Custard Apple is divine. Absolutely divine. Sweet like candy with a slightly acidic tang and smooth creamy, custard-y, flesh, I couldn’t get enough. When I came-to, I decided that the entire thing needed to be consumed on the spot – there were after all three others to use for a recipe or two.
Not being able to make anything then and there I scooped the flesh out of the remaining three, got rid of the seeds, spread the pulp and juice on pizza trays covered in baking [parchment] paper, and stuck them in the freezer. The interesting thing to note is that they did not freeze completely solid, like say a strawberry would, but stayed a bit soft and creamy. It got me thinking.
High in Vitamin C and a true autumn fruit, Custard Apples let you stretch summer fruit treats just a little bit further, even as the weather turns cold. But they can be tricky buggers sometimes… If heated above 50C [125F] they will loose flavour and texture – so all those delicious looking Custard Apple Tea cakes out there – use pears and save the Custard Apples for something else! When under-ripe they are bitter and chalky, and when over-ripe they almost melt as you eat them. If you can time it right, getting them in-between by testing they are just soft when pressed with a finger – like you would with an avocado, I can imagine that they would be perfect diced up with a spicy Asian salad and grilled fish or chicken.
The frozen pulp of three ginormous Custard Apples has been taunting me from the freezer while the day-job hijacked about 14 hours a day for the past few weeks. I finally made time, and as a result there are a few frozen treats to be shared over the next week or two – starting with a straight up, or not, ice-pop.
Custard Apple Ice-Pops
- 1 very ripe, soft custard apple
- Squeeze of lime juice – maybe
- Dash of coconut milk – perhaps
- Sprinkle of ginger – possibly
- Splash of rum – if you’re feeling naughty
Scoop flesh from skin and remove seed pods. Mash lightly if necessary, but keep some fruit intact. Mix in optional extras. I have to be honest – I didn’t use any of them!
Spoon into ice-pop moulds or tall shot glasses, insert a stick and freeze for at least 4 hours or overnight until firm.
Dip moulds briefly into warm water to release. Enjoy.
- Scoop the flesh out over a bowl to catch all the juices.
- You can of course puree the pulp before freezing, I couldn’t be bothered.
- Because the straight pulp is still a bit soft when frozen, too much alcohol will cause it not to freeze at all… so if you do add some rum, I’d recommend using the coconut milk and lime juice as well to make sure it turns into an ice-pop. Otherwise you’ll have to eat it with a spoon… shame.