Vegetation Profile: Soursop

small soursop

The Soursop is adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters, temperatures below 5 °C will cause damage to leaves and small branches, and temperatures below 3 °C can be fatal.

Comparisons of its flavor range from strawberry and pineapple mixed together to sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy roundness of flavor reminiscent of coconut or banana. The fruit is somewhat difficult to eat, as the white interior pulp is studded with many large seeds, and pockets of soft flesh are bounded by fibrous membranes. The soursop is therefore usually juiced rather than eaten directly.

Nutritionally, the fruit is high in carbohydrates, particularly fructose. The fruit also contains significant amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B1, and vitamin B2. The fruit, seeds, and leaves have a number of herbal medicinal uses among indigenous peoples of regions where the plant is common.

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In Saigon, soursops (mãng cầu xiêm) are primarily used for making smoothies (sinh to) because they are too big to be eaten in one sitting and contain stubborn seeds that can be difficult to remove. In fact, I had a soursop smoothie before tasting an actual soursop.

All this changed a couple of weeks ago when The Astronomer and I purchased a whole soursop for 23,000 VND in Binh Thanh District. Since it was quite ripe, I carried it like a baby on the motorbike to make sure it didn’t bruise.

After refrigerating it overnight, we dug in the following afternoon. The soursop’s peel was a cinch to get off and didn’t even require a knife. I cut the fruit into chunks, which did require a knife. True to its name, the soursop is indeed sour, it’s also unbelievably juicy and a smidgen fibrous.

It took us five whole days to eat the entire thing and I found that with each progressive day, the soursop grew sweeter. When I first ate the fruit, my mouth felt a little raw due to its acidity, but that totally subsided by day three. Cool beans.

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12 Responses to “Vegetation Profile: Soursop”


  • i love soursops! It is also nice as a juice. Unfortunately i could not find it here in NL, i can not even remember when i ate this the last time!
    By the way, i love the new background! I prefer this than the last one.

  • You’re going to have to tell me how much fruit should cost here… I think I’m getting swindled by the locals. I can’t believe a huge sour sop cost 23,000 and I paid 33,000 for a mango!!

  • My dad loves mang cau xiem and has always talked about having to let this thing ripen to the point where you would almost want to throw it out. Then it’s ready and sweet to eat.
    Can’t wait to get to Saigon this year (hopefully) and see all this awesome stuff you’re talking about! You guys should start a guide book on eating in Saigon. Kinda like a Rick Steves guide to traveling, but with Saigon food. The info here is so valuable and I’m sure there would be interested food enthusiasts who would find it helpful. We’ll pre-order a couple of books now! :)

  • Sari – I’ll have to try the juice version (nuoc ep) soon and it’s a shame you can’t find this beast of a fruit in NL. I guess you’ll just have to travel to the tropics.

    N – We must meet up SOON so that you stop getting swindled!

    WoR – I hope your trip to VN works out! And I would LOVE to publish a guidebook about Saigon food. Any ideas about how to find a willing publisher?

    WC – I will have to purchase another soursop to get a shot of the innards. I was so excited about eating this one that I forgot to photograph. I know, bad food blogger. I like mang cau more too, it’s my longtime fave.

  • Next time you have the soursop, you can make the most awesome dessert. Juice your soursop (keep the pulp) and then sweeten with some condensed milk to taste. Pour into ice-cube trays and you will have a custard/icy block for eating. Also, the leaves of the soursop will help you fall asleep at night.

  • I’ve never heard of soursops. It looks like a giant fruit cactus, but I’m sure very yummy. Are they available in the US?

  • please smuggle one back!

  • P – That soursop dessert sounds awesome and I can’t wait to try it! My mom also suggested that I pair my soursop with sweetened condensed milk. Great minds…

    cakewardrobe – According to my friend Lush, soursops are available in Hawaii. I’ve never seen them in SoCal, then again, I’ve never looked ;-)

    S – Better yet, I’ll grow one. Just watch.

  • you can find frozen soursop in the latin section of the supermarket freezer aisle – in spanish it’s called guanabana. great in milkshakes and margaritas!

  • I’ve only ever had soursop juice. Do you reckon it’s been sweetened?

  • Su Lin – I’ve never had soursop juice, but I’m guessing there’s a good bit of sugar in there.

  • You know I’ve lived in the Caribbean my entire life and I’ve had plenty of the soursop fruit and never once have I had one that tastes sour. Some varieties of the fruit are rather sweet and those seem to be the ones I always eat. I’d love to have a sour soursop one day.

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