In autumn I have a slightly expensive habit, which is buying unusual fruit! I suppose if I didn’t live in a city with great markets and green grocers nearby, I’d have to find another pastime. And moving to the country is definitely tempting, but I think I’d find it too hard to turn my back on all the produce, restaurants and inspiring mix of cultures around us.
So when the summer apricots, peaches and mangoes are over, city-girl me starts buying papayas every now and then, feijoas if I ever see them, persimmons, pomelos … A few weeks ago I headed to a shopping centre early on a Sunday morning to buy a quick birthday present for a kid’s party and found the shops still closed. But the green grocer was open, so I leisurely wandered around a came out with a kiwano or jelly melon, which is a spiked cucumber from Africa (lemony flesh in interesting globules!), and with a pink guava, inspired by my sister telling me about the guavas she had for breakfast almost every day on holiday in Mexico. For us the pink guava didn’t hit the mark – maybe we should have left it to ripen? (Best we head to Mexico for the real thing, I think!)
Custard apples are a favourite autumn purchase and they’re available at other times of the year too, but I wait until the limes on our little backyard tree are ready so I can combine them in this beautiful drink. (Last year I posted another favourite lime recipe – lime ice-cream.)
Custard apple and lime drink
This drink is like sorbet in a glass with no sugar at all. The soft flesh of custard apple is really creamy and sweet – a little too sweet for me to eat lots of it on its own – but the lime makes it incredible and so refreshing. Even if it’s chilly outside and we’ve got the heater on, I still adore this icy drink. Custard apple is rich in vitamin C, and so is lime of course. We haven’t been sick for a long while – could it be because of this drink?! Afternoon tea with a glass of it in hand is a very fine afternoon to me.
1 large or 2 small custard apples
1 tray of ice cubes
juice of 1 lime (or ½ large lemon)
about 200 ml water
Pull the custard apple apart and start putting the flesh into the jug of a blender or a regular jug, picking out the seeds. This is a slightly time consuming job, but worth the effort.
Put the ice cubes into a plastic bag and gently bash them into shards with a mallet, hammer or rolling pin. If your bench is made of a soft material like wood, then you might like to do this outside to avoid dinting the bench. (If you have an ice crusher, then by all means use it.)
Add the crushed ice to the jug along with the lime juice and water. Puree in the blender, or use a hand-held blender. The drink should be smooth and thick. Pour into glasses and enjoy straight away (or refrigerate for a few hours before serving if more convenient).