Origin of Soursop
According to Julia Morton’s book, “Fruits in Warm Climates,” soursops were first mentioned by Oviedo in 1526 in reference to their growth in the West Indies and northern South America. Records also indicate that the Mesoamericans in the tropical lowlands subsisted on soursop, in addition to avocados and cacao. Indeed, creation myths reference the gods offering people a bounty of fruits including custard apple, soursop, mameys, and more. While these civilizations didn’t use soursops as a medium of exchange like cacao beans, they were still one of the first fruits brought to Asia by the Spanish sailors.
Today, many countries grow soursop including China, Australia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Venezuela, Argentina, West Africa, Mexico and parts of Central America. Few regions produce soursop commercially: on the short list is the Philippines, nations in the Caribbean, and parts of South America. In India, soursops grow in gardens and as a hobby crop.
Availability of Soursop in India
Soursop grows on a limited scale in the southern sub-tropical regions of India, including Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala. The fruit also grows wild throughout these regions, too. Soursops thrive along coastal regions with tropical weather; they will not tolerate frost and do best in well-drained and semi-dry soil at elevations below 1,000meters.
In India, soursop fruits on a continual basis but primarily flowers and fruits during the months of April through October.
Where to find Soursop in India
Despite its pleasing taste, soursop doesn’t appear in markets often. Indians who grow up enjoying the fruit usually tell of a tree growing in their backyards, or behind a neighbor’s fence. Soursop is a more common sight to Sri Lankans and south Indians than for those living in the north.
Nonetheless, a few trickle their way into the markets in Chennai and Bangalore when in season. One has a significantly better chance of finding soursop’s close relative, the custard apple.
Checking for Ripeness in Soursop
Quality soursop yields gently when pressed. The best fruits are picked only when ripe; while slightly immature fruits will grow softer, they will never possess the same robust, complex flavors as truly ripe soursops. Do not be deterred if the plucked soursop’s skin goes from dark green to brown or black—the flesh may still be perfectly edible.
Guanabanas come in varying sizes and textures: some are the size of a small jackfruit and spiky, while others are the size of an orange and bumpy. Some are delicious when light green; others require a deep greenish-brown color to indicate ripeness. Given these variations, rely on touch as the primary indicator.
Taste of Soursop
Soursop is a pleasing fruit: though it often has a mouth-puckering quality to it, it’s akin to enjoying a sweet-and-sour piece of candy. When compared to other fruits, some liken it to pineapple, muskmelon, coconut, banana and citrus. Soursops have a melt-in-your-mouth quality, releasing tangy sweet juice with every bite. The smell is slightly musky, tropical and lemony. The texture is similar to a slightly creamier mangosteen: smooth, soft, fleshy, pulpy, juicy and deliciously aromatic. The texture shares a bit of resemblance to a watery version of a pulpy, non-fibrous mango.
Nutritional Value of Soursop
According to the USDA nutrient database, 100g of edible soursop contains the following values:
3.3g Fiber (13% RDI)
.3g Fat (neg)
1g Protein (2% RDI)
20.6mg Vitamin C (34% RDI)
Thiamin (5% RDI)
.1mg Riboflavin (3% RDI)
.9mg Niacin (5% RDI)
.1mg Vitamin B6 (3% RDI)
14mcg Folate (3% RDI)
.3mg Pantothenic Acid (3% RDI)
.6mg Iron (3% RDI)
21mg Magnesium (5% RDI)
27mg Phosphorous (3% RDI)
278mg Potassium (8% RDI)
.1mg Copper (4% RDI)
Health Benefits of Soursop
Parts of the soursop fruit, leaves and bark are used for traditional medicine purposes. The book, “Medicinal Plants in Andhra Pradesh” explains the leaves and flowers are sudorific, or, sweat inducing. The flowers and their buds remedy catarrh and cough; the leaves, when infused, treat fever, dysentery, stomach problems, and act as an antihelmintic. A root decoction is administered as an antispasmodic, parasiticidal, and piscicidal. Green bark, according to the authors, is an astringent and potent purgative.
Soursop leaves also have the reputation as an anticancer agent. Though the US’s Food and Drug Administration has supported no such claims, a few preliminary studies show promising results. Soursop capsules remain a best-selling anti-cancer drug among patients looking for alternative treatment options.
Mullaatha has several substantiated health benefits as well:
--The “Pharmaceutical Biology” published a study revealing the hypotensive benefits of certain compounds in soursop.
--A study published by the “Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention” expounds on the soursop leaves’ ability to act as a chemo preventative by reducing tumor sizes and suppress tumor initiation in mice induced with skin cancer.
--Another study also published in the “Asian Pacific Journal of Cancer Prevention” reveals the leaf extract’s cytotoxic potential based on its positive effects against breast cancer cells.
--According to a study conducted by scientists in Brazil, aqueous extracts have potent antibacterial activities
--A study published by the “International Journal of Molecular Sciences” showed that soursop leaf extracts have antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory activities.
--The “African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines” published a study citing the fruit’s antihyperglycemic benefits.
--According to a 1997 study published in Phytotherapy Research, ethanol extracts of soursop leaves reduced the incidences of PTZ seizures and the mortality rate arising from them.
--A 1997 study published in the Journal of Natural Products found that soursop bark compounds showed cytotoxic activity against human pancreatic cancer cell lines.
--Another 2002 study listed in the Journal of Natural Products shows that soursop seed compounds exhibited significant cytotoxic effects against two human hepatoma cell lines.
How to Open/Cut:
Soursops are easily prepared, as they require little more than cutting in half, taking out the long “heart” in the center (though this chewier part is edible) and slicing the flesh into bite-sized chunks. The leathery green skin isn’t edible, nor are the large, shiny seeds embedded in the fruit. The few seeds and large size makes it easy to remove them.
Here’s another video giving an idea of its texture and the ease of cutting the fruit:
Soursops keep for up to 7 days at room temperature, and longer if lightly chilled. Chilling the fruit, below 15C, however, is discouraged—the flavor is adversely affected and the skin discolors quickly.
Soursop Recipe Ideas and Uses:
Several countries have recipes featuring this beautiful fruit, especially in the tropical Caribbean countries. In South America, soursop pulp sells by the bag for use in dishes outlined below.
--Blend and strain soursop to make a juice for cocktails, tropical punch or smoothies. The pulp works especially well in pina colada and margarita recipes. Use any juice from the flavors listed as flavor complements herein.
--Make ice cream/popsicles by blending the fruit with some nut milk (or coconut milk) and freezing.
--Use as the basis of a salad dressing: combine the strained juice and whisk with white wine vinegar, garlic powder, mustard, basil, mint, and olive oil. Serve on cucumbers, pomegranate seeds, marinated tofu and greens.
--Make soursop mousse by using silken tofu as the base. Blend with avocado, mango or passion fruit, and soursop.
-- Make soursop custard by boiling sugar, cornstarch, salt and coconut milk. Stir constantly. When removed, stir blended soursop flesh and coconut flesh into the mixture. Chill overnight.
--Soursop pulp can be folded into vanilla coconut cupcake batter, as the flesh withstands high heats without losing flavor.
--Incorporate soursop into any citrus marinade recipes
|Soursop sorbet from|
Pineapple, orange, banana, mango, custard apple, avocado, mangosteen, lemon, lime, pear, bilimbi, guava, coconut, feijoa, elephant apple, citron, Buddha’s hand, tamarind, kiwi, peach, nectarine, passion fruit, santol, sour orange, kumquat, watermelon
Herbs, spices, and oil: ginger, vanilla, honey, mint, coconut milk, white wine vinegar, garlic, mustard, basil, olive oil, pistachio, almond, tequila, rum, lime juice
In Sri Lankan folklore, Lord Rama and his acolyte, Hanuman ate soursop often when traveling to Sri Lanka.