Australian Custard Apples


Warning! This is an “extravagant” post. If that might offend you, skip to the Wagyu Osso Buco Milanese a la Marketman at PHP138 per serving (previous post) instead. In the supreme service of Market Manila’s loyal readers, Marketman (with big smirk on his face) finally broke down and bought a single, hefty, stunning and ripe custard apple last Saturday so he could photograph, taste and write it up… After chilling it for a few hours, I ate the entire custard apple for dessert after the osso buco. At PHP600 plus per kilo, it has to be one of the most expensive fruits available on a very limited basis in Manila. I picked one of the smaller yet plumper specimens but even that reached about 500 grams and that meant PHP300+ for one piece. I used to eat this fairly often when I worked in Melbourne, Australia (custard apples are grown in the more tropical Northern territories of Australia) and found them somewhat pricey there but not extravagant.

A relative of our atis, the custard apples of Australia are hybrids from the Atemeoya family and this Pink Mammoth variety can grow up to 3 kilos in weight! custard2The Australian specimens are super special because they are filled with this incredible creamy pulp that is sweet and delicious. In the large fruit that I ate, there were a total of just 12 seeds, the rest of it was the yummy stuff around the seeds. They are in season from March to September, with June being the peak. Our atis tends to be chock full of seeds with a whole lot of mouth scraping going on to get the meat surrounding the seeds. A related post that is interesting as well is Karen’s at Pilgrims Pots and Pans on anonas. Just to compare the custard apple with our own locally grown atis, I bought about ½ kilo of ripe atis for about PHP60 at the market and tried one shortly after eating the custard apple. Our atis had a more distinct flavor but lost out on the creaminess, sweetness and the ratio of pulp to seed. But at 1/5th the price, I think I would have the local atis most of the time and every once in a while, have a mental short circuit and get a custard apple for a fleeting moment of bliss… Readers who live in Australia (the third largest group after the U.S. and the Philippines), are you lucky to have these or what?!?

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23 Responses

  1. I think we should recognise our tropical fruits like the atis and anonas etc. and promote them. . . I think what we don’t realise is that we are blessed, we have lots of these tropical fruits but not even the majority of us Filipinos have enjoyed them.

  2. Interesting. So the flavor is less distinct… but is it basically the same taste as atis? I really, really love atis and miss it a lot. Do you know if custard apples are available here in California? I don’t think I’ve ever seen them at Whole Foods or any specialty produce store…

  3. Marketman,

    Thank you for the supreme service for your loyal readers! Without having ever tasted custard apples, nor would I probably ever, (unless it was libre!) I’ll say I like our atis fine for the flavor and sweetness…any sweeter would be too much, especially in the heat of summer.

    I remember some relative of mine saying once, “the more seeds, the more fun to eat…”

  4. I remember seeing a similar Thai variety being sold in SunGee Greenhills for P300 (or more, can’t remember exactly) a kilo. I never tried it since at P180 per fruit, it was quite expensive, especially considering the fact that someone told me the local atis was much better. Where did you get your custard apple? It’s really time for someone to plant better varieties of the atis that has smaller seeds.

  5. Wilson, I agree we should promote our own fabulous fruits more. Problem is, we don’t have enough orchards as many of the fruits are just grown in backyards…also, I get the feeling no one is paying attention to the genetics of the fruit and they are just morphing into less and less prime specimens… fried neurons, I suspect they have these in the U.S. as so much Australian produce makes it to your shores! However, they spoil quickly so they don’t stay on the shelves long. Mita, yes, local is fine on this one, but the amount of pulp on the custard apples is amazing. I think our variety would make better atis ice cream…which I haven’t had in 20 years probably. Jul, you can get these in Rockwell one or two days a week in the basement lobby. Or at the Salcedo market. I also suspect that the fruit markets in Binondo would have these…

  6. Yes, we are indeed lucky to have this glorious fruit here in Oz and it only costs us approx. $2.00 each. Don’t worry MM, if I happen to holiday there sometime I’ll bring you a case.

  7. Hi MarketMan, I agree, Aussie custard apples give more bang for its buck than the native atis (even though it costs a few more bucks!) Speaking of big bucks, it’s the price of bananas in Australia that are currently hurting our wallets over here. $12 for a kilo!! Yikes!!! Might as well have truffles with my cornflakes for breakfast. Hey MM, care to swap custard apples with a ‘nana?? :-)

  8. What! atis is called apple custard? Have mercy! Why thank you, sir for this new info. Now I won’t look stupid if someone offers me some apple custards and come up with a fruit and not a cake! It is called “pomme canelle” in French-cinammon apple- hey these Frenchies have their own weird ways of naming things, so, sue them hehehe…I love atis and I try to look for them in all our posting everywhere, also those humongous guavas with less seeds… don’t tell me guava has another name aside from the scientific one!

  9. Yes, one of the most remarkable tropical fruits there is, atemoya (annona squamosa x annona chirimoya) is a cross of our atis and annonas. They have developed different varieties now but a bud of its first generation was tested in the Philippines around late twenties. The variety that I came accross in Rio is larger than a baseball with skin that looked like our guayabano (guanabana, annona muricata). I could have bought five of their atis, and their atis is no mean thing, for one atemoya but well worth it, imho.

  10. P60/kilo for atis? no, we pay P25/kilo, tops, for large, sweet atis here in davao. so at P600+ per kilo, i’d probably try to eat the six seeds, skin and all! magnolia and silver bell ice cream (does anybody remember silver bell ice cream at all?) used to have atis ice cream when i was a kid, and i remember one japanese guest who so loved it, he wanted to know how the fruit was de-seeded before being made into icer cream. we told him magnolia employs two persons who sit with two buckets in front of them-all they do is chew atis, spit out the seeds in one bucket,and the pulp in the other. he ordered vanilla ice cream thereafter…(am so telling the truth here, peks man!)

  11. My mom already tasted seedless atis. When they went in Bulacan more than 10 years ago, our friend there gave her one big seedless atis. According to my mom, it was really sweet and creamy. Our friend in San Miguel, Bulacan has 3 seedless atis trees.

    Arce Dairy has atis flavor ice cream.

  12. MM, you actually got a bargain for these Australian atis at P600/kilo. I bought mine at Rockwell last Friday and they were going for P1,000/kilo! It’s extravagant yes, but my Bin wanted some so I actually spent P500 on ONE large Australian atis. Worth the one mouthful I had. My Bin had the rest, of course. :p

  13. Shirley, yes, it’s related to a cherimoya and our own native atis variety, but it’s actually a hybrid that was selectively bred for more pulp, less seeds and a heftier size… so the Australian Custard Apples are quite onto a class by themselves! lori, you got fleeced! But that vendor at rockwell is always more expensive…at least he has a good selection. Lani, YUM, locally grown seedless atis, YUM! And thanks for the tip on Arce, will hunt it down soon. Millet, how lucky you are to have atis so cheap in your neighborhood! Lou, custard apples are a close relative of atis, but abroad they should substitute just fine. Oh, and I have a post on guavas in my archives somewhere in case you are interested. Apicio, the South American ones look more like guyabano? Maybe closer to cherimoyas? Sasha, I’d trade bananas for custard apples whenever you want! Heehee.

  14. It’s really sad how we have so much good-tasting local fruits but don’t have the technology to sustain their availability and improve their quality. About 5 or so years ago when we were holding business in Novaliches, Q.C., we were fortunate enough to have really huge, sweet atis delivered to us by kaings. It was only P50 a kilo then, and goes down to P35 during the season’s peak and if we got in bulk. The atis came from a farmer’s orchard, hence they were called “bukid” atis, and you can tell they were ripened on the tree with some parts of the skin “bursting”. There only like 5-6 pcs. per kilo (yes, they were THAT big), the seeds were bigger and were covered with thick sweet creamy meat. It’s not sickeningly sweet like the Thai atis but sugary sweet with a hint of sourness like I like it.

  15. This fruit is really a treat, as I love atis as well. My son is still trying to get around into eating it. Super gigantic and sweet. Almost the same as the atis back home, only bigger.

  16. Atis in California: Cherimoyas! Yummy when in season, very close to atis taste and texture with less seeds. Marketman, you should’ve tried the cherimoyas in the boqueria market in Barcelona. They will guide you as to what’s ready to eat and sweet. They never cheat their customers as it ruins their reputation. The vendors will honestly tell you what’s sweet and what’s not. I always raid the Spanish markets wherever for cheromiyas, jamon, tostada with EVOO+salt and a cafe con leche cortado!! Yum!

  17. Hi MM, to make you more envious, custard apples here in Oz is on special at $A4.95 a kilo.I’ll eat a couple for you,hehehe!

  18. atis for custard apple?hmmmmm….i grew up knowing that they are called sugar apples…maybe because of the sweet grains as you suck up the pulp from the seeds….and from more seeds….my father likes them very much though, i just wonder if its okay to let him have his fill since he is a diabetic…..with the sweetness and all…anyone?….tnx….

  19. bought some of these at the queen victoria market, quite pricey but definitely worth it :)

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