Atis: The Fruit of a Thousand Cataracts

There is a peculiar fruit that permeates the markets and fruit stands during the humid season.  It looks like an enlarged raspberry with a lumpy yellow-green husk that tenderly cracks open to reveal teardrops of toxic black seeds peering through its shiny cream pulp.  In Arabic, the fruit in question is known as Ashta, in English it is Sweetsop, while in Filipino it is known as the older sister of all or Atis.

Atis is a fruit that originated in tropical Americas and is common in tropical countries.  It matures in summertime and grows well in warm temperature. The edible part is the creamy flesh that coats the oval black seeds. When picking the ripe one, feel it first with the palm of your hand.  Choose the one that is tender but not squashy.  It’s ripe when it feels soft and juicy in the palate and tastes as sweet like a banana. It can be used as an alternative to milk when blended and chilled; an ice cream; a sauce for a salty fish dish; and simply as a desert on its own.

Furthermore, it is low in fat and rich in potassium, iron and vitamin C, though it should be eaten moderately for its high caloric value.

The versatility of this fruit extends to its healing properties.  In Central America and in Asia, the leaves are boiled in water and used as a bath to alleviate rheumatic pain, to hasten menstrual flow and treat dysentery colds and fever; the crushed leaves are inhaled for dizziness; the juice or the paste of the black seeds of an unripe fruit is applied to cure insect bites, as well as an oily cream massaged into a lice-infected head; and it’s chloroform is being tested to combat breast cancer.

Atis is also great as an ice cream.  Try this recipe out:

300 ml Evaporate Milk

1 egg

¾ cup sugar

2 cups seeded Atis pulp

Scald the milk with sugar in a saucepan, then gradually add egg, stirring constantly. Cook for about 2 minutes then remove from heat.  Let it cool.  Stir in ashta pulp and pour into a bowl. Freeze until it reaches the right consistency.  Eat it with a spoon or scoop it on a cone and slurp it.



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