Sarifa Custard Apple The fruit of the common custard apple, also called sugar apple or bullock's-heart in the West Indies, is dark brown and marked with depressions giving it a quilted appearance; its pulp is reddish yellow, sweetish, and very soft (hence the common name).
In Jamaica the ripe fruit is often halved, sprinkled with lime juice, and eaten fresh. The fruit flesh has a creamy but granular texture somewhat like that of the closely related cherimoya (Annona cherimola). Another close relative is soursop (A. muricata), called guanábana in Spanish-speaking regions.
Starting in October, the plants may be seen flowering, carrying on their graceful habit of growth, and putting forth new leaves. In January or February, they bear their tiny flowers, which are perfect in all respects except that the sexes are not separated as they are in most cultivated species.
In a large number of these trees growing together, each tree will bear fruit, but not much attention is paid to this fact by the Jamaican planters, who often have many thousand fruit trees on their estates. The fruit is very light and is carried off by the wind unless there is some tall object near them that will act as a break.
The fruits of custard apple trees growing wild in Jamaica were eaten by the Arawak people, but it is unclear how they were used. It is unlikely that they were able to do more than take a few bites from the fruits as their flesh quickly turns into a gel-like substance rendering them difficult to eat.
The fruit was introduced to Jamaica in 1605 by Captain Blaeu of the Dutch West India Company and rapidly became popular. By 1708, they were reported to be abundant in the markets of Port Royal (Palmer, 2008).
However, it was not until about 1888 that custard apples came into their own when a Jamaican planter named Henry Parkinson began to market them on a large scale. He promoted them heavily, sending custard apples to his contacts around the world and importing breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) from Tahiti.
Parkinson's venture was successful; today, Jamaica has a thriving industry with exports all over the world. Custard apple is also grown in Puerto Rico on a small scale basis, but it has yet to become a major export product.
The custard apple is well adapted to tropical conditions and can tolerate relative humidity as low as 60% for short periods. Its ideal environment ranges from 23°C to 32°C with rainfall between 1000 and 2000 mm annually, a dry period of 3–5 months, and high atmospheric humidity. The custard apple tree is also successfully grown in many parts of the world with a suitable climate, such as Hong Kong and southern Florida.
Global sarifa (custard apple) production
As of 2016, the global production of sarifa (custard apple) was estimated at around 1.4 million metric tons. The majority of this production comes from Brazil, which accounts for approximately 60% of the world's total. Other major producing countries include India, China, Thailand, and Mexico.
The custard apple is a tropical fruit that is native to the Americas. It is also known by its Spanish name, chirimoya. The fruit is round or oval in shape and has green or yellowish-green skin. The flesh of the fruit is white or pinkish in color and contains numerous black seeds. The flavor of the custard apple is sweet and aromatic.
The custard apple tree is an evergreen that can grow to a height of 20-30 feet (6-9 meters). The tree has a wide, spreading canopy and large, leathery leaves. The flowers of the custard apple tree are white or greenish in color and have five petals. The fruit ripens from August to October in most parts of the world.
The custard apple is grown in tropical and subtropical regions around the world. The tree does best in warm, humid climates with well-drained soils. Custard apples are generally propagated by seed, but they can also be grafted onto rootstocks.