It takes a trained eye to know the exact moment when to pick the sweet custard apples at Makhoma Farms to ensure the best quality of each individual fruit.
John and Cassie Warren have been growing custard apples at their multi-crop farm in Gin Gin for six years, and John says the niche fruit is becoming more popular.
Growing versatile crops including mangoes, lychees, avocados, and custard apples, allows the couple to continually have produce on hand throughout the year at Makhoma Farms.
It’s the start of custard apple season, and this year is expected to a bumper one for Makhoma Farms as they’ve started to send premium boxes of fruit to market already.
John said Gin Gin was ideal for growing a range of produce, and the Bundaberg Region keeps the perfect climate for the subtropical custard apple.
“The temperature at Tirroan and Gin Gin is perfect – people think of custard apples as being tropical fruit, but they grow better here than they do in Cairns,” he said.
“We are off to a good season, it’s very rewarding and a niche crop to grow.
“One tree will have fruit ready to pick week after week – they are fast growers and as they flower the fruit sets over and over.
“It takes a trained eye to pick at the right time, as there is a bit of a trick to it and you have to watch the fruit to know the moment when it is ready.”
John said the majority of the custard apples grown at Makhoma Farms were taken south, to Sydney and Melbourne markets, where the demand for the Bundaberg grown fruit continues to grow.
He said the KJ Pink variety of custard apples were primarily grown at Makhoma Farms, as the time and labour needed to grow these species was less than other varieties, with some needing time-consuming hand pollinating.
“We have a little custard apple community here in the region, made up of growers including Scott Kirkwood and Michael Blasco,” he said.
“Australia is actually the leaders in breeding custard apple hybrids, there are many varieties, including the red custard apple, which we have a few of.”
He said the versatile fruit was delicious when eaten fresh, and he encouraged those who hadn’t tantalised their tastebuds with the sweet flavours of custard apple to give it a try.
“I prefer them out of the fridge, but my wife doesn’t, and the best thing to remember is to eat them when they are soft, break open from the back and take out the pips and the skin off and enjoy,” John said.
“They have a unique flavour and have also been listed number 2 in BBC’s top 100 healthy foods you can eat.”
To find out more about Makhoma Farms click here.
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