See also: Atemoya
Sweet sop is another name for Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa). It is native to the Caribbean, Central America and northern South America, but is also very popular in Southern Asia. It is a relative of the Custard Apple, and is sometimes confused with it because in India the sweet sop is also called custard apple.
The Annona family also includes soursop (guanabana), custard apple (bullock's heart), cherymoya, atemoya, alligator apple (Florida), illama and soncoya.
March 3, 2010
E-mail from Stef C., Taiwan
I understand that there are many varieties of Custard Apple, but as one variety (called locally "Buddha Head fruit") is my personal favourite, I was wondering if you might update your description a wee bit:
The custard apple available in Taiwan, also called "Sugar Apple" and "Buddha Head fruit", is actually most enjoyable before it softens completely to the custard-like texture it is known for. It ripens and spoils very quickly, so it is important to check it often, and eat it in the short period between firmness and "mushyness", when it can be squeezed by firm but gentle pressure. It can be easily cut open or simply pried apart, and the flesh spooned or simply bitten from the skin. Care must be taken to avoid biting or swallowing the hard, black seeds, and to avoid putting the skin into the mouth (as it is too soft and bumpy to clean well). Like most tropical fruit, chilling actually dulls the flavour, so it should be enjoyed at room temperature.
There is also a local variety which seems to be a cross between custard apple and pineapple; the skin is smoother and more contiguous, and the flesh is firmer and more succulent (and clearly pineapple-flavoured).
Although they don't ship well, there are varieties available around the world, obtainable in season in many tropical and near-tropical countries.