Jamaican Custard Apple

A few days after I arrived home, Michael knocked on my backdoor. A reddish fruit sat cushioned on the palm of his outstretched hand. I had not idea what it was and I was hoping he hadn’t noticed the slight look of ambivalence on my face.

The skin was smooth, almost velvety to the touch but it had a few marks that made me wonder if a little fruit fly had built a home in it.

Custard Apple
Custard Apple

It’s a custard apple, my cousin said when she dropped by later and I felt silly about my initial ambivalence. Still, I searched my memory trying to recall if I’d ever seen or eaten one before.

The skin gave way easily as I pressed it and a fragrant and familiar scent greeted me when I broke the fruit open. The pulp looked exactly like the fruit we call sweetsop, with the same granular, custardy consistency (probably how it got its name) and just as sugar-sweet. Like the sweetsop, it had small sacs covering black seeds.

So what’s the custard apple? The custard apple (annona reticulata) is from the same family as the fruit we call sweetsop in Jamaica. In fact, when I searched for custard apple, I found several sites that described the sweetsop instead.

Custard Apple or Sweetsop?

I was confused and curious. Did I have the right fruit? I emailed a copy of the photo to my aunt. She confirmed that it was the custard apple. I also asked a friend from Trinidad. Many of the fruits we have in Jamaica are found in other parts of the Caribbean but usually called by different names.

Jamaican Custard Apple
Sweetsop (photo from toptropicals.com)

I thought Leesha was describing the custard apple until she printed a photo from the Internet and showed it to me. It was the sweetsop (annona squamosa), which is also called sugar apple. I added Jamaica to my search parameters and found one photo that looked like the fruit we call custard apple but she didn’t recognize it. Neither did my friend, Delma, who’s from Grenada.

The custard apple is known by many names including Jamaica apple, netted custard apple, bullock’s heart and bull’s heart (some think it’s shaped like a heart). A native of the Caribbean, it is found in Central and South America, Africa and Asia.

It is full of vitamins, iron, fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and other minerals.

Like the naseberry I wrote about in last week’s FoodieTuesday, the custard apple is in season now. So if you’re headed to Jamaica, see if you can find it and give it a try. I think you’ll like it.

Custard Apple Sorbet

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  1. 3 cups custard-apple pulp
  2. 1 cup (8 oz.) plain yogurt
  3. 1 tablespoon honey
  4. 1 tablespoon lime juice
  1. Puree pulp in processor or blender. Add other ingredients. Freeze in ice-cream freezer. Makes about 1 quart.
Adapted from http://ediblesouthflorida.com/recipes/custard-apple-sorbet/
Adapted from http://ediblesouthflorida.com/recipes/custard-apple-sorbet/
InsideJourneys https://insidejourneys.com/

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27 comments on “Jamaican Custard Apple

  1. Reading your blog makes me feel not only hungry but also well informed on exotic fruits I would probably never ever heard of. It is hard to imagine how it tastes, though.

  2. Never heard of the custard apple, but I’m familiar with the sweetsop, in swahili it is called ‘tomoko’. 2-3 years ago their was a huge buzz on it’s anti-cancer properties.

  3. Have never heard of or seen these before. A most wonderful post (as always), Marcia. I love learning about all these foods just waiting for me to try when I get there . . .and yes, one day I plan to visit your Jamaica!

  4. I have never seen the reddish version of this fruit, but the inside and your picture of the sweetsop look very familiar to me. We have something similar in Malaysia. What you show as a sweetsop is what the market people in Malaysia call a custard apple. We also have cherimoya and soursop. You sent me into a Googling spurt, and I think all these fruits are in the same family but different distinct species. I’m sure your recipe would work with something similar I can find locally. No foodie post for me this week as I’ve been baking up a storm in the kitchen starting this last weekend– 2 Momofuku Crack Pies, 30 Lemonade Cookies, and Superfudge Gluten-free Brownies which I’m incorporating into homemade Vanilla Ice Cream.

  5. The outside of the fruit is very pretty but the inside looks bizarre. I’ve heard of custard apples but haven’t actually tried one.

  6. I’ve heard of custard-apples but never tried one. I love the sound of the sorbet – especially as I’m a sucker for anything with the word custard in it.

  7. They’re all from the same family, Michele, so I’m sure if you substitute custard apple/soursop, it wouldn’t change the taste much.
    Homemade vanilla ice cream? You rock!

  8. Tomoko? That’s an interesting name. Wonder how you guys came up with that name? I ask myself the same thing, especially since almost all the Caribbean island call it by a different name.

  9. Hmm, come to think of it, I haven’t seen it here either, Jennifer.
    My guess is that it probably doesn’t travel well. That just means you’ll have to pay a visit to the tropics.

  10. I don’t think I have ever seen or eaten a Custard Apple so far. So I definitely need to try out this recipe (that is if I can find Custard Apples here).

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