Soursop (also graviola, custard apple, and in Latin America, guanábana) is the fruit of Annona muricata, a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree. The exact origin is unknown; it is native to the tropical regions of the Americasand is widely propagated. It is in the same genus, Annona, as cherimoya and is in the Annonaceae family.
The soursop is adapted to areas of high humidity and relatively warm winters; temperatures below 5 °C (41 °F) will cause damage to leaves and small branches, and temperatures below 3 °C (37 °F) can be fatal. The fruit becomes dry and is no longer good for concentrate.
With aroma similar to pineapple, the flavor of the fruit has been described as a combination of strawberries and apple, and sour citrus flavor notes, contrasting with an underlying creamy texture reminiscent of coconut or banana.
Soursop is widely promoted (sometimes as “graviola”) as an alternative cancer treatment, but there is no medical evidence it is effective for treating cancer or any disease.
The flesh of the fruit consists of an edible, white pulp, some fiber, and a core of indigestible black seeds. The pulp is also used to make fruit nectar, smoothies, fruit juice drinks, as well as candies, sorbets, and ice cream flavorings.
Due to the fruit’s widespread cultivation and popularity in parts of Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, soursop and its derivative products are consumed across the world, also via branded food and beverage products available in many countries, including Brazil, Mexico, Canada, the United States, the UK, Ireland and Continental Europe, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam.
In Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Harar (Ethiopia), it is a common fruit, often used for dessert as the only ingredient, or as an agua fresca beverage; in Colombia and Venezuela, it is a fruit for juices, mixed with milk. In Cuba, a thick smoothie made of soursop pulp, milk and cane sugar goes by the name of champola. Ice cream and fruit bars made of soursop are common. The seeds are normally left in the preparation, and removed while consuming, unless a blender is used for processing.
In Indonesia, dodol sirsak, a sweetmeat, is made by boiling soursop pulp in water and adding sugar until the mixture hardens. Soursop is also a common ingredient for making fresh fruit juices that are sold by street food vendors. In the Philippines, it is called guyabano, derived from the Spanish guanábana, and is eaten ripe, or used to make juices, smoothies, or ice cream. Sometimes, they use the leaf in tenderizing meat. In Vietnam, this fruit is called mãng cầu Xiêm (Siamese Soursop) in the south, or mãng cầu (Soursop) in the north, and is used to make smoothies, or eaten as is. In Cambodia, this fruit is called tearb barung, literally “western custard-apple fruit.” In Malaysia, it is known in Malayas durian belanda and in East Malaysia, specifically among the Dusun people of Sabah, it is locally known as lampun. Popularly, it is eaten raw when it ripens, or used as one of the ingredients in Ais Kacang or Ais Batu Campur. Usually the fruits are taken from the tree when they mature and left to ripen in a dark corner, whereafter they will be eaten when they are fully ripe. It has a white flower with a very pleasing scent, especially in the morning. While for people in Brunei Darussalam this fruit is popularly known as “Durian Salat”, widely available and easily planted.