Custard apples are a decadent and deliciously sweet sub-tropical fruit. The Australian custard apple is a hybrid of the sugar apple (Annona squamosa) and the cherimoya (Annona cherimola), and is unique to any other custard apples grown around the world. Originally native to South America, this luscious and flavoursome fruit has Australia as its largest commercial producer.
What are they
Custard Apples are pale green with knobbly skin and can range in size from 500g to 1.5 kg. They have a deliciously creamy texture, sweet taste and are best enjoyed fresh or as a simple yet impressive dessert. Custard apples are eaten when soft and only the flesh is eaten.
How are they grown
Custard Apple trees are large and spreading, shaded by large, green drooping leaves. The tree sets many light yellow trumpet shaped flowers that emit a pungent, sweet smell especially in the late afternoon when the male pollen sacks burst open. Of these flowers, only a small number will set fruit.
The Fruit takes between 20 and 25 weeks to reach maturity in sub-tropical climates where the days are not too warm and the nights not too cool.
Where are they grown
There are four main custard apple growing regions, all found on the east coast of Australia. These regions stretch from the Atherton Tablelands in tropical north Queensland down to Lismore sub-tropical NSW, allowing for a great supply of quality and delicious fruit throughout the season.
There are two main varieties of custard apples, the Pinks Mammoth and African Pride. Both are sweet, juicy and full of flavour.
As the name suggests, the Pinks Mammoth is the larger of the two varieties. It can grow up to 3kg and has yellow-pink colouring between the ridges of the bumps when mature. You can pull a Pinks Mammoth apart with your hands and then scoop out the flesh to enjoy.
The African Pride is the smaller variety and is medium sized – usually between 500g-800g. To enjoy, simply cut the African Pride in half (or the size you’d like) and scoop the flesh out with a spoon.
Both varieties have a full appearance when mature, and the skin will start to smooth out the bumps. They both turn from dark green to light green.
How to know when they are ripe
A custard apple is ripe when you gently squeeze it and it gives slightly under your hand. Much the same as an avocado. You can buy custard apples ready to eat, or still hard to the touch and let it ripen over the next few days after purchase.
Tropical North Queensland kicks off the custard apple season, with the first fruit of the year ripe for the picking in late January/early February, followed by Yeppoon in Central Queensland. The season then follows the coast down to the Wide Bay area, and the Sunshine Coast starts producing by mid to late February. Northern New South Wales is the last region to produce with harvest starting around May each year.
Custard Apples are a delicate tropical fruit and are easily damaged if handled incorrectly.
You can get a greater return if the following points are observed:
- Do not store green fruit under 8°C
- Store at 8°C to 12°C for up to 5 days only, longer than this and chill injury occurs.
- Fruit will not ripen under 14°C. Extended periods at this temp will lead to chill injury.
- During Winter store fruit in a warm area and cover to hold in their own warmth.
- Best temperature range for ripening is 18° to 24°C.
- Shelf life is short so buy small quantities more frequently.
- Avoid small (under 300g) and dark green (immature) fruit.
- Custard apples are nature’s sweet treat that can also provide a range of health benefits.
- Custard apples are an excellent source of vitamin C, important for a healthy functioning immune system. One serve (150g) contains up to 64.5mg, which is more than the recommended daily target for Australian adults.
- With a low glycemic index (GI) of 54, custard apples can keep you fuller for longer making them a great choice for those who are weight conscious.
- A good source of dietary fibre. One serve of custard apples contains 3.75g of dietary fibre, which is11% of the daily target for Australian adults.
- For those with an active lifestyle custard apples contain potassium, important for normal fluid and electrolyte balance and magnesium, important for normal nerve and muscle function.
For more information:
Contact Hort Innovation
Phone: (02) 8295 2300
Custard Apple Media Enquiries
Contact Bite Communications
Phone: (02) 9977 8195
Custard Apple Industry Enquiries
Contact Patti Stacey
Phone: (02) 6629 5333