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May 5, 2009 10:33 AM

Why is there no fresh guanabana in the US?

Guanabana (aka Soursop) is a tropical fruit that seems to be unavailable in the US, except for frozen pulp and the like. Does anyone know why? It's amazingly popular, and you can find the juice in cans just about everywhere here. But no fresh fruit.... you'd think somebody would try to grow some in Dade County, Florida to sell at Farmer's markets at least, but I can't find a thing.

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  1. Hi Steve,
    It seems you can't pick them too green or they won't ripen properly. Once they start ripening, you can't knock them around too much; the skin gets very thin and the fruit can be pierced easily, even with your finger!

    4 Replies
    1. re: carijoy27

      I found fresh soursop at least one last summer, at a fruit stand in Chinatown Mahattan (on Bowery I think between Grand and Hester, uptown side. I even kept the pits (there still up in my room in a little bag) on the off chance the batch was un irradiated and the pits were still viable (not guranateed for a tropical fruit, but it sometimes happens, the pits of the jackfruit I also bought that day came up)

      1. re: jumpingmonk

        I've heard the pits are toxic.

        Ok, so this is interesting..... did you see a lot of them at this one stand or just one? I have family that I visit in Miami on a regular basis. All sorts of tropical fruits at fresh fruit stands. But never guanabana. When I ask at markets, people just laugh.... so how does one of these (or more than one) show up at one fruit stand in NYC?

        1. re: Steve

          The pits probably ARE toxic, but then again so are the pits of cherries, apples, plums and a lot of other fruits. and anyway I saved the pits to GROW not to EAT!

          As for number of fruits I seem to recall they had between one and two dozen at the time. as for how, my best guess is that the were brought in by someone who snuck them over the border from Canada (which with its colder climate, has a much more liberal policy on the importation of tropical fruits than the U.S. does) I know this happens with mangosteens, I assume it can happen with soursops too. In fact its prably easire with soursops, sinc ethey look so much like a cherymoya (which are legal) if your just giving them a quick look.

      2. re: carijoy27

        Fresh guanabana and the fresh juice is one of the most exhilirating foods I have ever eaten. The frozen pulp or canned juice is but a hollow gesture compared to the real thing. In addition, it is a natural tranquilizer according to what I have read and experienced myself.

        It would seem to me that the difficulties of transport could be overcome and would be worth it...but if it's just not practical, then I guess it doesn't happen.....hmm, your explantion is plausible without being completely satisfying. It seems there is a price for everything, so why not a few imported soursop?

      3. I have never heard of this fruit before but I am now singing:
        "Guanabana! Doot doooooooooo doo doo doo. Guanabana! Doot doo doo doo..."

        3 Replies
        1. re: mordacity

          I'm not sure what your tune is, but the fruit is pronounced gwuh-nah-buh-NAH'

            1. re: mordacity

              LOL!!!!!!! Didn't need the video - I knew just what you were humming! Viva los Muppets!

        2. you can find it in Hawaii or Puerto Rico but is very hard to find it in the Continental U.S.

          1 Reply
          1. re: rawdude77

            You can buy the guanabana at Roberts is Here in Homestead, I was just there Saturday they sell it is 9 dollars a pound but it's worth it.

          2. You can find the plants, leaves, seeds and juice for sale on Ebay.

            1. Guanabana/ soursop is a melon that is grown in Mexico, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and other tropical growing zones. It has properties that kills cancer cells without killing the good cells. Big pharma is trying to ban it because it isi a threat to the multi billion dollar chemo/and radiation therapy. In fact phrma has taken purified/ distilled guanabana, called it graviola and added it to chemotherapy cocktails. They do not want the public to get their hands on it, because it cures cancer more effectively them chemo... Big pharma could lose hundreds of billions of dollars if this cure gets out to the public... Google traditional chinese medicine/ tcm, health benefits of soursop and see for yourself what is says .... Bingo... There's the answer.

              15 Replies
              1. re: Nileswest1

                On another thread, I announced that I finally found some fresh guanabana in the US. I heard about a small operation that grows some and seasonally supplies a Food Town (local supermarket) in Davie, Florida. And it was available at the same time of year that I was going to visit nearby family. So I called the Food Town a couple of days in advance and indeed they told me they were expecting some the following Saturday (this was in June), but that they don't get many and they sell out fast. I got four guanabana. They were not as large as what I had in Jamaica, and I don't think they were as good.

                I was reminded that extracting the pulp is messy and quite a PITA, and more importantly the pulp is only really fresh tasting for a short time. It doesn't keep well, so it seems you either eat it immediately or it deteriorates. I can see why this would limit its popularity in the US, and furthermore might not be so effective in a recipe unless you scooped it out and served it in one fell swoop. Might not be worthwhile in a cooked or refrigerated dessert, for example.

                I read in Jamaica that guanabana is a natural tranquilizer, and in fact after eating one I fell fast asleep one afternoon. It was one of the deepest, most satsfying naps I've ever had!

                As far as your 'banning' theory is concerned, I can find frozen guanabana pulp and canned guanabana juice in almost every hispanic market in the US. So big pharma is losing that battle.

                Also, I can't find any support for the idea that guanabana is botanically a "melon." Are you using that as an unspecific term to mean any large fruit?

                1. re: Steve

                  Steve, it sounds like you live in Florida -- why not grow your own and have your own fresh guanabana at your disposal?

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    No, just visiting family. I am in Washington, DC. But it is not a slam dunk for the Florida weather or more people would be growing it. I noticed they were a bit small, and a Jamaican man confirmed they are larger and better down there. I paid an outrageous price at Food Town, and the fruit was flying out the door. It gets delivered on a Saturday morning and is gone by the afternoon.

                    1. re: Steve

                      so keep it in a container and move it inside when the weather gets cold?


                      I would sooner claim "not many people know what it is" -- the climate in Florida, particularly in South Florida, isn't all that much different than Jamaica...most stuff that grows one place will grow in the other.

                      As to most fruit, different varieties have different sizes and quality of fruit...maybe the fruit you bought in DC was just from a different variety....

                      1. re: sunshine842

                        Jamaica may not be much different in climate to South Florida (Central, forget about it), but apparently enough so they don't grow very well.

                        I didn't buy it in DC, I bought it in Davie, FL. The Jamaican guy who was there said it doesn't grow very well up in S. Florida. He didn't mention a different variety. But I could tell it wasn't as satisfying like I had in Jamaica.

                        1. re: Steve

                          it's pretty easy to buy seeds and trees in Florida ( Home Depot), and says it's been grown in Florida for over a century.

                          The same article goes on to mention that the soursop isn't all that popular in places that lean toward sweet fruit...which would be a pretty solid argument why it's not had much commercial success in the US.

                          I have known people as far north as Tampa who have them in protected parts of their yard (Tampa is pushing the limits...Miami is considerably warmer)

                          1. re: sunshine842

                            I don't think it has anything to do with sourness. Guanabana is not particularly sour, and I would say it is about the same as pineapple or mango. Far less sour than grapefruit.

                            I have been scouring farmers markets and fruit stands in South Florida for years, and I have family down there who have neighbors with fruit trees. Even my Cuban in-laws who love guanabana have never seen it in Miami. Except for a few growers it is hobbyists, and even then quite scant. If the guanabana I had in Davie was chacteristic, I can see why.

                            Cut one open and show people how to scoop it and get out the seeds. The look of the interior combined with the difficult of getting the custard out of the seed sac is a turnoff, so if the fruit is substandard, I now can see why it has little commercial viability here.

                            Guanabana needs to be eaten right from the fruit, once you scoop out the custard, at least the one I had in Davie, you can't keep it for later. Doesn't taste the same.

                            1. re: Steve

                              You've made up your mind that they don't exist. So be it.

                              1. re: sunshine842

                                Harldy. I say that, commercially, they barely exist and I have only seen evidence of that once. The few hobbyists are out there, keeping it to themslves, and I was disappointed with the one time I tried it in this country. Apparently, the Jamaican guy I met at the market agrees with me.

                                Worth buying if you're there, but I probably wouldn't make a special trip.

                              2. re: Steve

                                Try the Asian market wherever the nearest Vietnamese immigrant population lives. I found some in metro Detroit's Kim Nhung Superfood (Madison Heights), as intense in flavor as you described. 5 or 6 dollars a pound. They were a little too sweet for me and oddly mushy at room temperature, but perfect frozen.

                                1. re: harsensisland

                                  Hmmm, the flesh is like a custard, you have to squeeze the seeds out of their sacs. A good one should hit the spot between sweet and sour.

                                  1. re: harsensisland

                                    The perfect way to make guanabana is in a smoothie. Look up youtube videos about how to make guanabana the haitian way. Amazingly delicious!

                              3. re: Steve

                                You can buy guanabana at Roberts is Here in Homestead, FL.

                            2. re: Steve

                              Hi, Steve. I live in florida now, but I am from Springfield, Va. There is a place off Backlick Rd (Hechinger Drive) called Fresh World. They often stock soursop, as well as many other exotic fruits, veggies and foreign foods. I would call it "The Asian Market" but there are foods from all over the world. Check it out sometime.

                              1. re: Emil_Kam

                                I called the Fresh World in Springfield. The woman who answered said they "very rarely" get any. I will be onthe lookout. I know in Florida it is available near the end of June from local growers only, but I don't know where they'd get it from up here.