About Custard Apples

Discover interesting facts about custard apples in Australia

Learn about one of Australia's most fascinating fruits!

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.

How they grow

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.

How they grow

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.

There are several Australian varieties

The two main varieties of Custard Apples, are the Pinks Mammoth and the African Pride.  Fortunately for custard apples lovers, new varieties have started to emerge, as time has evolved.   

These new varieties all started their life as a 'bud sport'.  Essentially, this is the part of the plant that displays morphological differences from the remainder of the plant.  In these cases, it was the fruit.  The cause is generally considered to be a chance genetic mutation. 

The Hilary White, the KJ Pinks and the PinksBlush Custard Apples can be traced back to the Pinks Mammoth variety. 

Australian custard apples are juicy, creamy, sweet and fragrant, with a tropical aroma and hints of vanilla.  The cream-coloured flesh is soft and custard-like. 

Pinks Mammoth

As the name suggests, the Pinks Mammoth has a very large fruit size which some growers hand pollinate at flowering to improve fruit shape.  Each piece of fruit can grow up to 3kg.  Yellow-pink colouring between the ridges of the bumps occur when mature. The fruit can be pulled apart with hands and spooned out to enjoy.

 

 

 

African Pride

The African Pride is an early season variety and is a consistent bearer.  The fruit is medium sized – usually between 500g - 800g. To enjoy, simply cut the fruit in half and scoop the flesh out with a spoon.

 

 

 

Hilary White

The Hilary White is a reasonably consistent bearer, with fruit turning from dark green to light green.  A tell tale sign the fruit is ready to pick is when a creamy colour appears between the smoothed out bumps.  

 

 

KJ Pinks

The KJ Pinks sets heavy fruit crops without the need for hand pollination.  The creamy tinge between the carpals is the tell-tale sign the fruit is ready to pick.  Ripe fruit is juicy and with a sweet textured pulp.

 

 

PinksBlush

PinksBlush is unique in appearance. The raised dimples on the ripening fruit develop a rich tapestry of pastel pinkish-orange colours that resemble a blush.  The flesh is very creamy and sweet to taste.

PinksBlush season starts in September, when all other Australian varieties have finished harvest.  The season runs until December.  

How to choose the perfect custard apple

Custard Apples are generally pale green with knobbly skin, and have soft, sweet flesh with brown seeds.

The best time to enjoy the fruit is during autumn and winter, making custard apples a sweet and tropical treat during the colder months of the year.  Although as new varieties are being developed, the season is extending to early summer.

Tips to choose custard apples:

  • Shelf life is short, so buy smaller quantities more frequently.
  • Choose fruit that is pale green and firmer.
  • Avoid small (under 300g) and dark green (immature) fruit.
  • Ripe custard apples will give slightly under pressure when squeezed, similar to an avocado
  • Custard apples have a fragile exterior, so a couple of spots or blemishes on the skin are normal. 
  • The inside flesh will still be of great quality
  • Once the skin has turned purple or black, fruit has surpassed the best eating quality

Tips to store custard apples:

  • Fruit that is firm to touch are best stored at room temperature and covered to hold their own warmth.  
  • The best temperature range for ripening is 18oC to 24oC.
  • It usually takes a few days for the fruit to be ready for consumption
  • To speed up the ripening process, place custard apples in a paper bag with a banana
  • Once ripe, store custard apples in the fridge and enjoy within three days
  • To experience the best taste, take fruit out of fridge and wait about five minutes before eating

All varieties are delicious and very nutritious, perfect for eating every day.

Explore our Recipe section for other delicious ways to enjoy.

Commercial fruit growers can obtain further information from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Both varieties are delicious and very nutritious, perfect for eating every day.

Explore our Recipe section for other delicious ways to enjoy.

Commercial fruit growers can obtain further information from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.

Both varieties are delicious and very nutritious, perfect for eating every day.

Explore our Recipe section for other delicious ways to enjoy.

Commercial fruit growers can obtain further information from the Queensland Department of Primary Industries.