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Sweet, sour, splendid

By Shirley Hall

Soursop is the fruit of annona muricata, a broadleaf, flowering, evergreen tree native to Mexico, Cuba, Central America, the Caribbean and northern South America—primarily Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Venezuela. Soursop is also produced in some parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. It is in the same genus as the chirimoya and the same family as the pawpaw.

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.

The flavour has been described as a combination of strawberry and pineapple, with sour citrus flavour notes contrasting with an underlying creamy flavour reminiscent of coconut or banana.

Soursop is widely promoted (sometimes as “graviola”) as a alternative cancer treatment. There is, however, no medical evidence it is effective.

The flesh of the fruit consists of an edible, white pulp, some fibre and a core of indigestible black seeds. The species is the only member of its genus suitable for processing and preservation.

The pulp is also used to make fruit nectar, smoothies and fruit juice drinks, as well as candies, sorbets and ice cream flavourings.

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.

Practitioners of herbal medicine recommend the fruit and leaves of the graviola tree to relieve stomach distress, fever, pain and respiratory problems such as cough and asthma, and for many other medical problems. Soursop contains a number of natural substances that have biological activity, according to the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Centre. These include fatty compounds called acetogenins, especially one called annonacin, along with other compounds called quinolones, annopentocins and two alkaloids, coreximine and reticuline.

Soursop’s acetogenins are the compounds that have been most studied, especially for their potential to prevent or slow the growth of cancer. The cancer centre also says some compounds in soursop may be naturally antiviral and antiparasitic, and may also suppress inflammation.

The soursop has a unique shape, green fruit, short “thorns”, and the trees can reach a height of nine metres.

Soursop fruit offers a variety of positive content for human health, ranging from fruits, leaves and even trees. Soursop leaves, in fact, contain many benefits to herbal medicine materials and to maintain body condition.


Nutritional facts


Soursop fruit is rich in fibre and vitamins. The content of dietary fibre in soursop reached 3.3 grammes per 100 grammes of fruit flesh. Consumption of 100 grammes of meat soursop fruit can meet 13 per cent of the daily fibre requirement. The vitamin most dominant in soursop fruit is Vitamin C, which is around 20 milligrammes per 100 grammes of fruit flesh. Requirement of Vitamin C per person per day (60 milligrammes) can be met only by consuming 300 grammes of meat soursop fruit.

Fibre is very good to help digestion and detoxification, while Vitamin C is an antioxidant that is very good for boosting the immune system and slow the ageing process. Soursop fruit contains very little fat (0.3 grammes per 100 grammes), so it is good for health.

Soursop also contains phosphorus and calcium, respectively 27 and 14 milligrammes per 100 grammes. Both minerals are important for the formation of bone mass that allows you to build strong  


bones and prevent osteoporosis. Soursop excellence lies in the content of sodium, which is low (14 milligrammes per 100 grammes), but high in potassium: 278 milligrammes per 100 grammes—amounts very good for preventing hypertension.


Health benefits of soursop include:


1. Improved immune system

Substances contained in soursop fruit such as acetogenins, annocatacin, annocatalin, annohexocin, annonacin, annomuricin, anomurine, anonol, caclourine, gentisic acid, gigantetronin, linoleic acid, muricapentocin make our body stay fit and help us against disease.


2. High in Vitamin C

The most dominant vitamin in the soursop fruit is Vitamin C, which is around 20 mg per 100 g of fruit flesh.


3. Relief from haemorrhoids and pain

The juice drinks are good for curing haemorrhoids, waist pain and improving appetite.


4. Rich in fibre

In addition to nutritional components, soursop fruit contains a lot of fibre (dietary fibre). Fibre is very good for digestive health.


5. Preventing osteoporosis

Soursop fruit contains phosphorus and high levels of calcium; very good for strong bones and the prevention of osteoporosis.


6. Increased energy

The content of fructose in soursop can prevent energy drain. This is because fructose is a simple sugar (monosaccharide) found in many fruits. This could also be a good natural source of carbohydrates for the body.


7. Cure for many diseases

Soursop fruit juice, taken twice daily, can help overcome kidney disease, liver problems, urinary tract infection (also known as urethritis) and hematuria (blood in the urine).


8. Preventing bacterial infections

The fleshy part of the fruit, if applied to any cuts, will accelerate the healing process and also prevent bacterial infection.


9. Prevention of nerve damage and maintaining a healthy heart

The content of Vitamin B1 is able to accelerate metabolism, blood circulation, prevents nerve damage, restoring the edges and central nervous disorders. Vitamin B2, also found in soursop, is required for the body’s energy production, fat storage, nervous system function and maintenance of the heart muscle.

 

Soursop milkshake

 

• 1 cup whole or low-fat milk

• 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk

• 2 tbsp sugar or honey (this is up to you and your sweet tooth, for some it is optional and the condensed milk is enough)

• pinch of salt 

• 2/3 cup crushed ice

• 1 tbsp vanilla and 1 tbsp coconut cream (optional)

• 2/3 cup frozen or fresh soursop pulp (fresh is better)

 

Cut your fresh fruit in half, and be sure to remove all the seeds. 

Remove and scoop fresh pulp from fruit.

 

Directions

In a blender, pour in all the above ingredients, except for the ice. Blend your ingredients until smooth. Add crushed ice and blend one more time until your milkshake has a thick, smooth consistency. Serve right after blending, and enjoy!

Drink more than one and you will most likely feel very sleepy.

 

Soursop healthy tea

 

Directions 

1. Clean 2 to 3 small (or 2 large) organic pesticide-free soursop leaves.

2. Boil about one and a half cups of water. 

3. Tear apart the soursop leaves into small pieces using your fingers, or cut with scissors.

4. Place the soursop leaves in your tea cup and pour the boiling water on them. Cover for 30 minutes.

5. Strain your tea and add agave sweetener, stevia, brown sugar, honey or other natural sweetener if you have a sweet tooth.

6. Drink warm or cold.

 

Soursop pie

 

Base

175 g (6 oz) sweet biscuits

85 g (3 oz) melted butter

pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg

 

Filling

3 tsp powdered gelatin 

250 g (9 oz) cream cheese

400 g (14 oz) can condensed milk

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup pureed soursop, beaten well

 

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. All herbs are fresh (unless specified), and cups are lightly packed. All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. 

 

Directions

• Chilling time: 2 ½ hours

To make the base, preheat oven to 180˚C. Crumble the biscuits and mix well with the melted butter and spice. Press into a greased pie dish and refrigerate to chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking for 10 minutes until golden. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

To make the filling, sprinkle the gelatine over ¼ cup hot water, mixed in well and set aside. Beat the cream cheese with the condensed milk and lemon juice, then stir in the pureed soursop followed by the gelatine. Pour the mixture into the baked and cooled pastry shell and refrigerate for a couple of hours to set.

 

Soursop sorbet 

with mango lime coulis

 

• 1 1/2 cups sugar

• 1 3/4 cups water

• 28 ozs soursop frozen soursop puree, thawed (3 cups)

1 1/2 cups fresh mango puree (from 1 1/2 lb mangoes); or 1 (14-oz) package frozen mango puree, thawed 

• 3 tbsps fresh lime juice (or to taste)

• 1/2 tsp finely grated fresh lime zest

 

Ice cream maker; lime zest to garnish.

 

Directions

Bring sugar and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until reduced to about 2 cups, 3 to 5 minutes.

Transfer syrup to a bowl and cool completely.

Whisk together soursop puree and 1 1/2 cups syrup, then freeze in ice cream maker. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, about 2 hours.

Blend mango puree, lime juice, 6 tablespoons of remaining syrup, and remaining 1/4 cup water in a blender until very smooth. Force through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids, then whisk in zest and, if necessary, additional water for a thin purée. 

Serve sorbet with coulis.

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