Food & Beverage

Jun 1, 2017

TENDER SWEETNESS

Despite its vast therapeutic potential, the fruit custard apple or Annona coriacea, from Lobito, Angola, continues to be under-estimated and "treated" as a third quality product.

Originating in the Antilles and introduced in Angola, by the Portuguese, the fruit custard apple – thanks to its vitamins and minerals – provides numerous health benefits and can be consumed in juices and teas. However, despite the huge demand, this product is extremely rare in the European market and can only be acquired in some "gourmet" supermarkets.

European entrepreneurs have developed conversations with Angolan authorities to invest in the production of this fruit that, from the outset, have a potential market in the old continent.

According to some scientific publications, there are multiple benefits in this fruit from the Annonaceae family. Several nutritionists sustain that the "fruit fibres ensure the good functioning of the intestines, regulating levels of cholesterol and control blood pressure".

On the other hand, because it strengthens the immune system and prevent premature aging, is regarded as an "elixir of youth", being indicated for the treatment of anemia, colitis, diarrhea and malnutrition.

The fact is this fruit, almost no fat, contains 81 calories for each 100 grams.

With its rigid shell, a very peculiar format and sweet flavour, this fruit deserves a closer attention in daily alimentation. Also known as sweetsop, it is a typical food from the people of Lobito thanks to its high richness in fibres, vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium and phosphorus. It is also rich in carbohydrates, proteins and natural sugar, which make of sweetsop a fine option for deserts, as long as there is no exaggeration, of course, due to its high calorie values.

The sweetsop is born out of a tree which can rise up to eight metres, with rigid leaves, placed characteristically interspersed in a horizontal position along the branches. The fleshy flowers, with a light green and soft yellow or colour, produce a globe fruit or elongated which contain many seeds tied to a white pulp, liquid, soft, involved in a yellow and green shell, smooth or covered with fleshy scales.

All the parts of the fruit are used. The leaves can be used in the preparation of teas, aimed to sooth twitching and cramps, besides treating anemia, colitis and malnutrition; the shells in the shape of a heart are indicated for the treatment of chronical colitis, as well as fortifier for the stomach and intestines; the seeds can be used in fighting dandruff (seeds macerated and sprayed with alcohol), besides losing the intestine and producing nausea; and the roots serve as energetic purgative.

As everything in life, however, this fruit also has some counter-indications. Even though its many health benefits, the fruit should not be ingested by diabetics due to its high value of glucose, as well as its not indicated for people in a diet regime.

Gourmet cuisine

Sown in Lobito, in the Benguela province, this fruit is often used in Angolan cuisine. With its pulp one can make a delicious mash which can be served with roasted meat or grilled fish. One can also make sweet creams, to accompany cakes, pies and ice cream. Combined with cream, one can create "perfumed" mousse. The mash is also used in stuffing pies and soufflés.

Careful, however: to use the fruit in cuisine, the small pieces should pass by a sieve to separate the seeds from the pulp. To ease the separation of the seed and the pulp it is advisable to pass the pieces through the liquefier, turning it on and off repeatedly, without letting the seeds broken.

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