Annona cherimola: Madeira’s new export

Annona cherimola: Madeira’s new export

Madeira’s Annona cherimola

During our Madeira discovery we came across many different fruit varieties.   However, one fruit puzzled us: the Annona.  Biologist know it as under Annona Cherimola in Latin.  Though its more common names are Annona, Cherimoya or Custard Apple.  The Portuguese call the green fruit anona.

What is a Cherimoya also called Anona on Madeira ?

An Annona is a tropical fruit native to the Andes in South America (Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia and Peru).  The Annona arrived in the Iberic Peninsula and Madeira roughly about 200 years ago.

The fruit is green in color and seems covered in green overlapping scales.  It is mostly roundish or heart shaped.

Anona da Madeira Annona Portugal Cherimoya

The Annona is famous for its smooth, sweet and ice cream like texture.  Hence the name custard apple.  Its taste is peculiar in the sense that it combines various flavors to make its own:   banana, mango, vanilla, pineapple, peach and strawberry.  Since it is extremely hard to describe, why not try one for yourself.  You will not be disappointed, maybe surprised?   The black seeds punctuating the flesh are inedible.

The Annona grows on trees or shrubs reaching 5 to 10 meters in height.

Annona Madeira Anona da Madeira Portugal

Madeira’s Green Export Queen

Madeira intends to export 40 tons of Annona via cargo plane to Europe but mostly to mainland Portugal and Spain.  Interestingly, Cherimoya is still quite rare on continental Portugal.  The Annona is a delicate fruit with an easily bruised skin and a very limited shelf life.  Hence, thanks to the opening of the processing center in Santana, Madeira can now process such a large quantity of fruit while maintaining quality.

Annona Madeira Export Portugal

Festa da Anona in Faial

Faial, belonging to Santana on the North Coast, celebrates this delicious fruit.  A festival takes place every year with exhibition of fruits, Anona cakes, liquor and desserts, as well as music, dance and lively entertainment.

Eating an Annona

A ripe Annona should feel slightly soft under your thumb if you press on the skin.  If it feels hard, then it is not ripe.  The skin should not show too many signs of bruises or ooze juice.  This means that the fruit is over ripe.  Warning: Do not bite on the seeds nor eat or ingest them. They are toxic!

Annona Cherimola Cherimoya Madeira Portugal Fruit Anona Eat

First Messy Method:

Some only use hand and squeeze the Annona open at the open gently pulling it apart.  You can then pull the flesh out with your fingers as it comes in chunks.  Or others just bite in the flesh of the half Annona without bothering to first remove all the seeds.  You can easily spit them out as you go.

Eat Annona Madeira anonaSecond Non-Messy Method:

Others eat a cherimoya like an avocado.  First, they cut the Annona in two.  Second, they spoon the whitish flesh out.  Third, they spit the large seeds out.

The Cherimoya is also perfect for ice cream, milk shakes, sorbets, smoothies.  Furthermore, it is a fabulous addition to any health juice.


Medicinal uses

This fruit is common on Madeira.  You will encounter it frequently during your walks and discoveries of the island.  It gets even better as custard apples are packed with excellent nutrients and properties for our health.

A medium-sized cherimoya can contain up to 7 grams of dietary fiber.  Hence, a fruit nearly covers the suggested fiber amount per day.  Fiber is vital for a healthy digestive tract and may relieve constipation. Furthermore, fiber contribute to the reduction of cholesterol in the blood.

According to a study, this surprising fruit (both peel and pulp) may fight bacterial infections (Source). This study further highlights the high potassium content of the Annona cherimola.  Potassium is key for cardio vascular health.

The Annona is an excellent source of antioxidants. (Source).  Interestingly, according to a study (Source), the peel has the highest anti-oxidant potential.  Another study confirmed the antioxidant content of the Annona Cherimola while attributing anti-Candida albicans and anti-fungal properties to the fruit (Source).

The Cherimoya seems to have antidepressant effects (Source). Scientists strongly suggest that the Annona possesses anxiolytic capacities and should be used for its anxiety relieving properties.

A summary of Phytochemicals and Nutrients contained in this wonderful fruit can be seen here.

Furthermore, the non edible seeds have various medicinal properties.  These large seeds can be crushed to make a great insecticide against lice and parasites in humans (Source page 1012)

Would you like to know about another exotic fruit cultivated on Madeira, here is the story of the Banana made in Madeira.


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