You can tell when a custard apple is ripe when the fruit is has slightly changed its color. You can feel that the top of the fruit has gotten softer and quite squishy. The nodules or dimples on the fruit are more flattened down and spaced out apart.
When picked early, however, immature custard apple will still ripen and taste very good. It just doesn't develop that richness and flavor like the ones that have been matured on the tree.
If animals are a problem in your backyard, you could pick the custard apples early. That is when the color on the skin is still green or has a bit of yellow/light green to it. You can use a pair of pruning shears to snip the fruit off the woody branch.
On the other side, if you'd like to pick it ripe, when the fruit has developed quite a sheen around its body color, then it is a good sign it's ready to pick. To make a raw custard apple ripe, a primitive way is to place it in boiled rice.
Custard apple skin doesn't have to be peeled off when eating. Some have a bright red color like an apple while others have the color when it's picked off the tree. To tell that it's ready to eat, you could feel the tip of the fruit. If it's soft, a bit squishy and sometimes indents when you press lightly onto it, then it's good to eat.
Custard apple fruit has the texture like its cousin soursop. However, it's very sweet. Unlike dragon fruits, custard apple seeds can't be eaten. You can though use them to start new trees.
The flesh of the apple is whitish and has some light or dark pink blushes depending on the way it was formed. You can cut the fruit in half and use a spoon to scoop out a part to enjoy.
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