The cherimoya, also confusingly spelled chirimoya, ranks among our favorite fruits in the surprisingly long list of fruits we had no idea existed before moving to California.
The name’s evidently derived from the native South American word, chirimuya, which means “cold seeds,” because the plant grows and seeds germinate at high altitudes.
The skin of cherimoyas is a bright to deep green, developing darker, blackish areas as they ripen. Split open, the fruit contains a soft, creamy fruit flesh and sizable, pebble-like dark brown seeds which, evidently, are poisonous if crushed and ingested (they’ve actually been used as an ingredient in insecticides).
The flesh, though, make for a really great, all natural ice cream alternative. Just cut the fruit open, carefully remove all the seeds, and freeze overnight in heavy plastic bag or other container. Then, set out for a few minutes to allow it to thaw away from the container sides and mix briefly in a blender until creamy. Plate and eat as is or, as we’ve done, add some fresh berries or a quick warmed jam.
Cherimoya season proper just started in southern California and runs roughly for the next two months, so get thee to your farmers’ market!