Ice Cream Fruit - Cherimoya

"Most Delicious Fruit known to Man" - Mark Twain

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Cherimoya Fruit aka Ice Cream Fruit

The Ice Cream Fruit also known as Cherimoya and Custard Apple is native to the Andes Mountain region of South America but can be grown elsewhere as well. Some varieties are adapted to coastal regions and some will tolerate lower elevations and slightly cooler climates. In tropical regions it thrives at elevations over 4,000 ft. and below 8,500 ft. It is frost sensitive but requires short duration of cool weather during which it enters dormancy.

Unfortunately, although Ice Cream Fruit will grow 'elsewhere' - they will not grow everywhere. U.S.D.A hardiness zones 10 and 11 are best - they can be grown in zone 9 with a lot of effort.

I tried some a few years back in California, they were aewsome, and I was sadly disappointed when I found there were none to be had back on the East Coast. They do taste something like ice cream - custard would be a better description.

When fully ripe they are euphorically sweet with a melding of tropical fruit flavors performing a ballet on your taste buds -coconut, papaya, mango, pineapple and banana are some of the diverse descriptions assigned to it. The tropically flavored cocktail combined with the smooth custardy texture is what led Mark Twain to describe them as "the most delicious fruit known to man".

Although Cherimoya made its rounds in the USA back in Mark Twains day, it never caught on as it is not really commercially viable. It's skin is too soft to be shipped and stored for extensive periods, it has a short shelf life and commercial propagation and harvesting the fruits can be costly. At Present, they are gaining some popularity in California and on the West Coast.

Should you decide to try growing Cherimoya, the most difficult task will be fertilizing the flowers. The male and female flower parts mature at different intervals, so they are unable to self fertilize. They are actually hermaphroditic, starting off as female then morphing into male. Grown outside their native habitat there are no natural insect pollinators so gardeners are required to hand-pollinate the flowers if they wish to reap any fruit. See Hand Pollination.

The seeds are fairly large and resemble very big apple seeds. Seed starting is not overly difficult although you need some patience awaiting germination, anywhere from 2 weeks under the very best of conditions and specimens up to 2 months under some conditions till you get sprouting.

They are also slow to mature, you probably shant get any fruit for 2-3 years at best, but more commonly 5 - 7 years.