I’ve always been a fan of exotic fruits. I’m the one likely to track down and buy an imported jackfruit or a half-decent mango when I see them in stock at Kroger.
When I found out about the pawpaw, the largest edible fruit native to the United States, I knew I had to try one.
They are surprisingly hard to track down though. Here’s a great explainer video why.
In short, they ripen really quickly and do not travel well.
Well, in late Spring 2020, I went to check out a food forest project at DeKalb Memorial Park. While there, my son and I spotted a few pawpaw trees.
The food forest is open to the public, so I made a note on the calendar to come back in September.
Sure enough, there were a few ripe, so we took 3 home with us.
I cut them up. They reminded me a lot of mangoes, except that they had several pits instead of a single large pit. Either way, we were able to try one raw just by scooping the fruit out.
It has a very runny, mushy texture. I see why it’s impossible to grow and sell in grocery stores. The taste was custard-y and very rich. It really is like mango meets banana. It was cloy-ing sweet, but still really good in moderation. The fruit was also very filling.
I can absolutely see how they were said to have sustained Lewis & Clark in the final stretch of their journey.
However, I also couldn’t see myself eating more than one. So, I tried making really basic pawpaw cookies courtesy Kentucky State University.
The cookies came out pretty well. They were really dense. The ones with peanuts worked better. Even the cookies though I couldn’t eat a lot of.
I highly recommend tracking some down. They are slowly becoming more commercialized (very slowly – that article is from 2011), which will likely make them a whole lot better and remove the few negatives that have been found in them.