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The Exotic Guanabana

The Exotic Guanabana

 The Exotic Guanabana


IMAGINE the delicious flavor of strawberries, cinnamon, mangoes, and pineapples all rolled into one! That is how some describe the guanabana (pronounced gua·naʹba·na). If you do not live in the tropics, you have probably never tried it. Also called the soursop (Annona muricata), the guanabana is an oval green-skinned fruit with spiny protuberances and a succulent white flesh interspersed with shiny dark-brown seeds.

The soursop tree is an evergreen that cannot stand frost. Its flowers are pollinated by small insects, such as the ant and certain beetles. Having no nectar and no vivid colors, the flowers do not attract many pollinating insects. Additionally, the flowers exhibit a dichogamous nature, that is, the pistils and stamens reach maturity at different times. So for commercial purposes, hand pollination is necessary. Otherwise, the tree will only yield between 12 and 20 fruits per season. Guanabanas are harvested close to complete maturity and ripen very fast. Hence, they are quite perishable.

Weighing up to ten pounds [5 kg], the guanabana is a good source of niacin, riboflavin, and vitamin C and is approximately 12 percent sugar. However, for most people the fruit is a little too tart to be eaten without sweetening. The edible pulp is pureed and strained and used mainly in refreshing juice drinks and sherbets. Traditionally, a tea made from the leaves has been used for dysentery, colds, and indigestion. In Mexico the tea has been used as an antispasmodic and as an astringent. The plant’s roots are used as a vermifuge to destroy or expel parasitic worms, and its seeds are used as a parasite repellent or an insecticide.

If the guanabana is available in your area, you may want to try it. Your taste buds are in for a real treat!

 [Box/Pictures on page 15]

Guanabana Sherbet

2 cups [16 oz (4.8 dl)] guanabana puree

1 tablespoon lemon juice

7⁄8 cup [200 g] sugar

1 cup [8 oz (2.4 dl)] water

1 cup light cream

1. Puree guanabana pulp by putting it through a colander, forcing it through a sieve, or squeezing it through cheesecloth. 2. Combine sugar and water, and boil the mixture for five minutes. Cool to lukewarm. 3. Add puree, cream, and lemon juice. 4. Pour mixture into a shallow pan, cover, and freeze until almost firm. Beat vigorously. Return to freezer, and freeze until firm.

[Credit Lines]

Page 14 top: Geo Coppens, CIRAD-FLHOR/IPGRI; page 15 top right: IPGRI-Americas