Sugar Apple: Curiously-Named Creamy Custard Fruit Treat
You may love apples. You might also enjoy sugary treats. None of that, though, means that you’ll ever like a sugar apple.
In name, this most ubiquitous of native West Indian fruits would appear to satiate sweet tooths with a predilection toward natural treats. In taste, though…well… let’s just say that names can be somewhat deceiving.
Before we bite into the flavor, though, a little background…
Not Your Typical Apple
As you can see in the photo above, a sugar apple doesn’t look much like the apples that most of us know. They are somewhat spherical like an apple, though you also often see them heart-shaped. Their color is almost always a pale green with a slight blue-green tint that’s nowhere near as appealing as Granny Smith green to me. So, don’t expect to see any dark red colors here.
The bigger cosmetic difference, though, lies along the surface rind of the fruit. Those rough, knobby segments are about as 180-degrees from a typical, smooth-skinned apple as you can get.
So yeah, judging strictly on appearances, the “apple” in sugar apple doesn’t really work.
Another name, annon, fits a bit better. After all, sugar apple trees are more scientifically called Annona Squamosa.
At the same time, though, I’ve never heard anyone refer to sugar apples as annon along my Caribbean travels. And considering that this fruit tree is widely grown throughout tropical America beneath full sun, West Indians should know!
A third name, sweetsop, also makes better sense once you work your way beneath the knobby skin and into the fruit. The creamy white flesh bears many similarities to that of the soursop. That’s not a coincidence either. The two fruits are actually close cousins.
Like soursop, this fruit carries some serious health benefits. The smaller fruit actually packs more iron, calcium, potassium, proteins, and overall food energy than its more famous cousin. (As an aside, they both make excellent ice cream.)
These West Indies delights also have nearly 50% more carbohydrates than soursop. So, if you have the option of both and need a quicker boost of energy, then sugar apple is the choice… That is if you can stomach the flavor.
Custard Apple vs. Sugar Apple
This brings us to what to me is probably the most apropos of the sugar apple’s names: custard apple.
If you, like me, are not a huge fan of custard, then you will likely not like sugar apples. In line with its custard apple AKA, the sugar apple’s white flesh with a creamy texture that not only looks like custard, but it also tastes like it too!
Yeah, definitely not my favorite Caribbean fruit, but one that I always enjoy seeing on my travels if only for its uncommon appearance.