Exotic fruit, Bahamian Sugar Apple
The Bahamian sugar apple is a rare treat. At least that is how we felt as children. We looked forward to every season where we could pluck the fruit from the tree and enjoy while playing outside during the summer.
The scientific name is Annona squamosa, it is a widely grown species of the Annona plant genus
It is well worth spitting seeds to taste the sweet creamy flesh.
It can also be fun!
Since i grew up eating them it makes me a good witness to the fact of how much fun you can have eating your food..
Sugar apples while enjoying something nutritious was also a reason to play a spitting game that both nourished and entertained.
They are not exactly apples as you may know it. Everything from it's skin to it's core is different from what you would recognize as a regular apple.
There is a drawing of a sugar apple that dates back to 1655, by Michal Boym.
This fruit is known is ancient civilizations of the Middle East, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Ethiopia and Mali.
Farmers of the exotic.
Since sugar apples are sweet they are high in natural sugars and are also high in calories.
They are well worth eating though!
They are rich in Vitamins B6, B2, B3, B5 and B9. Also in Vitamin C, actually nutritional information lists sugar apples as containing over 90% vitamin C.
They are excellent sources of manganese. As well as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and thiamine.
Visiting the Bahamas what would you eat?
It is really hard to describe a sugar apple because it actually doesn't look like anything else i have ever seen. Not even it's relation the soursop!
The skin or rind is non edible, and when it is young it's typically hard and green. As it ripens it blackens becomes soft and breaks apart easily at the cream colored softer covering that expands as the fruit ripens.
The sugar apple's shape is slightly rounded or conical, which means that at the tip of the fruit it becomes slightly pointed.
The flesh is pale, white, thin and juicy. Each segment is elongated to fit around the seed and form the ball like shape which is also attached to the inner core or stem.
The seed is black, shiny and hard in proportion to the edible flesh that surrounds it, it is large.
The stem or core, runs through the center of the sugar apple to which all the segments are attached forming the overall shape. It looks like a pale spear head or like the tip of an asparagus.
When ripe a sugar apple will easily split apart when gently squeezed. Plucking it apart by individual sections is fascinating and satisfying!
How to eat it
There are two ways primarily in which a person consumes a sugar apple.
- Scooping it out with a spoon, this way allows you to eat more than one segment at a time.
- Plucking the individual bumps and sucking the flesh and seed into one's mouth.
Either way is kosher depending on who you are with and where you are.
If outside and with your friends etiquette is out the window, and the fun with spitting seeds is included.
If inside and with mom you may have to exercise restraint and use a spoon. Maybe?
Other ways to eat it
- in a sorbet
- in a drink
- cooled in the fridge
- Sugar apple wine
Best time to eat
Best is allowing a sugar apple to ripen on the tree, typically the best month to pick or harvest them is September, when they prove to be most plentiful.
Yet, they can be picked, and left to ripen in a dark cool place in your kitchen or pantry.
How to tell if their ripe
- soft to touch or squeeze
- signs of white showing separations between bumps or segments
- the blackening of the rind or skin
Tips of recognition
- Tropical environments in the Americas like South Florida and the West Indies like the Bahamas
- Season - July to September
- Grows on trees
- Round conical shape
- Segments or bumps, individual pieces
- Hard green or pink rind or skin
- large black seed
- white creamy flesh
- cone shape core
- soft when ripe, breaks apart
Around the world
Sugar apples are normally grown in tropical climates, and can be found in the tropical Americas and West Indies. I am familiar with the ones that have a green rind.
The Season in the Bahamas is typically July through September, with September being the most plentiful of each season.
In other parts of the world it is known by several other names. They are found in places like Brazil to Taiwan, even Iceland.
Other familiar names
- Sugar apple
- Custard apple
- foreign Lychee
B & C
Iron, Calcium, Magnesium, Potassium+
A & C
A & B(sm)
Potassium, Phosphorus, Calcium
Sugar apples like any other fruit is best in it's natural state. It satisfies one's taste for something sweet and creamy.
It can be cultivated by planting the seeds. It is best of course to pick the fruit from the tree so your chances of growing it is at it's peak.
It is unique, so it is hard to say it is similar to another fruit that would be familiar unless you have eaten other fruits from around the world that are grown in tropical terrains.
Go ahead and try them though, because that gives you another option for a Vitamin C boost and a healthy snack.
If you are familiar with any of these fruits, it gives you an idea of what a sugar apple tastes like.
- Soursop or guanabana
- Pineapple sugar apple