Bromeliaceae (Pineapple family)
The Portuguese word ananas derives from nanas, used by the Tupi Indians of southern Brazil, meaning “excellent fruit.”
Comments. Because of their distant resemblance to pine cones, early Spanish explorers of the seventeenth century called the fruit pina.
Pineapple fruits are a good source of manganese, vitamin C, and vitamin B1. They contain the proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which is able to break down protein. It is used as a digestive aid, as a meat tenderizer, and in marinades as well as in medicine and the food industry.
Pineapples are among the commercially most important tropical fruits; the top producers are Thailand and the Philippines. Costa Rica, where the varieties ‘Golden’ and ‘Hawaiian’ are grown, is the largest exporter of fresh fruits. The most commonly grown cultivar is ‘Smooth Cayenne’, with spineless leaves, juicy yellow flesh, and mild flavor.
The delicious pulp of cherimoya has a satiny texture.
Description. Cherimoya is a small, mostly evergreen tree, 5-10 m (16-33 ft) tall with spreading branches. Young branches are covered with fine rust-colored hairs. Alternate, 2-ranked leaves simple, leathery, elliptic to ovate, 8-20 cm (3-8 in) long. Pale green, fleshy flowers with 3 greenish, thick and downy outer petals and 3 smaller and pinkish inner petals. Compound fruits conical or heart-shaped, 10-22 cm (4-9 in) in diameter, skin green with scalelike markings that can be smooth or form small protuberances. Flesh white, juicy with delicious, fruity, subacid to sweet aroma. Fruits contain numerous glossy, hard black seeds.
Origin and Distribution. Native to inter-Andean valleys of Ecuador, Colombia, and Bolivia and possibly Peru, where the tree grows naturally at elevations between 700 and 2,400 m (2,300-7,900 ft). The cherimoya was cultivated in pre-Columbian times and spread very early, before the arrival of the Spanish, to mountainous regions of Central America. European traders took seeds to Africa and Asia, where the tree is cultivated on a small scale. Although tropical in its
origin, it is adapted to higher altitudes with a subtropical or warm-temperate climate, tolerating even light frosts.
Food uses. The fruit is commonly eaten fresh, the pulp being scooped out with a spoon. Fruits halves kept in the freezer can be eaten like ice cream. The seeded pulp is used in fruit salads and for making ice cream, sherbets, and sorbets. Cherimoyas are excellent for making blended juices, milk shakes, and cocktails. The pulp can be fermented to produce an alcoholic beverage with a taste reminiscent of a tropical fruit punch.
Comments. The name cherimoya is sometimes wrongly applied to other members of genus Annona, including atemoya (A. squamosa x A. cherimola) and custard apple (A. reticulata, p. 21).
Cherimoyas are a good source of carbohydrate, fiber, iron, and niacin. As with other Annona species, the seeds, which contain several different alkaloids, are poisonous and must be removed before the fruit is mixed in a blender.
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