Oct 2007

Vegetation Profile: Sugar Apple

In some regions of the world, the sugar-apple is also known as custard-apple, a different plant in the same genus.

Annona squamosa (Sugar-apple, Sweetsop or Custard Apple) is a species of Annona native to the tropical Americas. Its exact native range is unknown due to extensive cultivation, but thought to be in the Caribbean.

The fruit is usually round or oval, slightly pine cone-like, 6-10 cm diameter and weighing 100-230 g, with a scaly or lumpy skin. The fruit flesh is edible, white to light yellow, and resembles and tastes like custard. The seeds are scattered through the fruit flesh; they are blackish-brown, 12-18 mm long, and hard and shiny.

Sugar apples or mãng cầu are my current fruit obsession. I tried them for the first time two weeks ago when my great uncle Ty presented me with six as a gift. Sugar apples look reptilian on the outside, but there is nothing cold-blooded about this sweet and juicy specimen. Although commonly described as custard-like, I find the fruit’s texture more similar to a full-bodied ripened pear.

The copious amount of seeds are a bit of a pain, but the fleshy goodness makes it worth it. I find that sugar apples taste best cold and extra-ripe. A kilogram of sugar apples in District 4 goes for 18,000 VND.

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8 thoughts on “Vegetation Profile: Sugar Apple

  1. Do you know if they’re in season this time of the year? I’ll be in Hanoi in 2 weeks and would love to get my fill!

  2. OMG,I love these! Aren’t they called in Vietnamese “na” or “mang cau dai”? Only 2 more weeks but I can’t wait!!! 🙂

  3. everyone should be aware that this fruit, also known as the sweetsop, is called “mang cau ta” or, more popularly, “na”. “mang cau xiem” or more commonly “mang cau” is used to describe the soursop, alsl known as guavabana or corosolier.

  4. When I lived on St Croix in the U.S. virgin Islands I grew sugar apple. I had over one hundred trees I had started from seed. I cannot explain the joy that these things provide. It’s more than just the taste or the way we eat them. This is a magic tree.

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