Carrboro, North Carolina
Born and raised in central Maine, my youth was spent mowing the lawn, kicking a soccer ball against the garage doors, and trying to sneak sugar cereal out of the kitchen cupboards after I was put to bed. More about Tim
South Royalton, Vermont
I am a baby boomer who grew up in a time when the trend in food was convenience and speed. It wasn't the fast-food era, but a post-World War II time when ... More about Warren
We live in Holliston, Massachusetts. When we bought our house in Holliston about 27 years ago, Holliston was a rural/residential town of about 13,000 people. More about Barbara
Wallace, West Virginia
My name is Autumn. I'm 24 years old, and I live in rural north-central West Virginia. I was born and raised in West Virginia, and in 2005 I graduated from ... More about Autumn
My personal interests revolve around the environment, both knowing more about it and getting outside and enjoying my surroundings. This led me down an educational path to ... More about April
Posted at 11:11 AM on October 30, 2008 by Autumn Long (5 Comments)
"...way down yonder in the pawpaw patch."
So goes the old folk song about that odd indigenous fruit, the pawpaw. The northernmost member of an otherwise tropical family of fruits that includes the custard-apple and the ylang-ylang, pawpaw trees grow wild throughout Eastern North America, from Florida to Canada. The small, cold-tolerant trees produce edible fruits that ripen after the first frosts of fall. These ovular fruits are about 6 inches in length and 2 inches in diameter. They are green at first, but turn dark yellow and brown when ripe. The flesh of the pawpaw fruit has a very soft, custard-like texture and tastes somewhat similar to a banana. The center of the fruit is lined with large black seeds about the size and shape of cannellini beans.
My husband planted a few pawpaw trees on our property several years ago, and they fruit prolifically each fall. It's too bad, therefore, that I don't particularly like the taste of pawpaws, and that I can't think of very many ways to use these abundant local fruits. My husband eats a few of them raw each year, but I don't like them well enough to eat them out of hand. I use them mainly for baking, albeit not very creatively. I made a batch of pawpaw bread yesterday, substituting pawpaws for bananas in a standard banana bread recipe. This is a good way to use pawpaws. Another tasty possibility is pawpaw cream pie. The mashed flesh also can be blended into smoothies as a banana substitute.
If anyone has suggestions about ways to use pawpaws, please share them!
How about a butter? I have no idea about paw-paws, since I am from the west and I didn't know paw-paws were real (as opposed to a nursery rhyme)until now. As far as I know any fruit can be made into a butter, including tomatoes, both green and red (thanks Cher).
Right now I have apple butter and tomato butter and I am starting in on the green tomato butter to be followed by pumpkin butter. I eat butters on toast and stir them into my oatmeal for breakfast.
Hopefully someone who has actually seen a paw-paw before will have a recipe.
Again, thanks for the pickled pepper recipe.
Posted by Kathy | October 30, 2008 6:58 PM
Pawpaw butter is a good idea for someone who really likes the taste of pawpaws. I think it might be a bit overwhelming for me, but in theory it would be good. Good luck with all the fruit butters you are busy making this fall!
Posted by Autumn Long | October 31, 2008 9:19 AM
Autumn, I was disappointed to realize we left your house without the gift of the little paw paw tree you offered when Anna and I visited over the summer. Maybe next time. We did get one in our CSA share about a month ago. None of us liked it (and we love bananas), though the butter idea sounds promising. Paw Paw, MI is just outside of Kalamazoo - someday I'll research and find out if there's a correlation with the fruit. Great post!
Posted by Donna McClurkan | November 6, 2008 7:11 AM
I'm sorry we forgot the little pawpaw seedling too. I saw it after you left and said, "D'oh!" At least you didn't fall madly in love with pawpaws when you got a chance to taste one. My feelings toward them, too, are ambivalent at best. I bet Paw Paw, MI, is named for the fruit; they grow as far north as southern Ontario. I think Michigan is in their range. Hope all is well with you and yours.
Happy local eating,
Posted by Autumn Long | November 6, 2008 9:08 AM
Hi Autumn, Kathy & Donna,
I'm from Kalamazoo Michigan & pawpaws do grow here. My husband has several trees at his worksite that produced fruit & has planted a few in our yard. Recently we were biking on the Kalhaven Trail here in SW Michigan & discovered a large grove of pawpaws - many with fruit. I don't like the flavor or texture so I am not a good resource for their use. Someone should call The Splendid Table & ask for help!
Posted by Patricia C. | November 7, 2008 9:34 PM