Pawpaws are the largest fruits native to North America, and mature trees really put out the fruit. But a dog won’t eat a pawpaw, and neither will a chicken. In my experience, most folks who are acquainted with the fruit like to try one or two every fall. And a handful of people will eat two or three a day like eating custard.
What a shame that no one has found a way to make such a prolific fruit more palatable. Part of the problem is that pawpaws are extremely perishable–without refrigeration they go soft in two or three days. So the prospect of enjoying a peanut butter and pawpaw sandwich is limited from the outset.
Pawpaw pulp can be frozen though. So how to use that frozen pulp? The fruit is also called Michigan Banana. This gets you thinking that you ought be able to use pawpaws the same way you use bananas: in breads, puddings, pies. I tried the latter this afternoon.
- One cup sugar
- 1 cup milk
- One cup pawpaw
- a tablespoon of flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- 3/4 cup cooked apples from breakfast
- One egg
- Mix all thoroughly; cook over medium heat until thickened,
- Pour into pie shell, bake at 450 degrees for 15 min. Reduce heat to 350 degrees, cook for 35 min. longer.
The result? Well I just sampled this little jewel. The crust was golden brown; the filling reminded me a little of pecan pie. And on the whole, it was good to very good, in its own way.
But I do think it can be improved–made much better, in fact–by adding 4-5 cups of apples, a nice portion of chopped pecans, and leaving out the pawpaws altogether.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m still pulling for this fruit. Maybe it’s destined always to take a back seat: as a minor ingredient in any dish it is part of. Trish Hash of Laural Creek, Virginia sent us a recipe for pawpaw butter a few years back that goes down this road.
- 1 1/2 quarts of pawpaw pulp
- 4 cups sugar
- 1 Box Sure-Jell
Writes Trish: “This is really good used as a glaze on a pork loin or with anything you want to add a tropical taste to.” The note ends, perhaps tellingly, with the complimentary close: “Go0d Luck.”
Yes, I am admitting that this year’s attempt at Pawpaw redemption had ended as it has so many times before: The Great Recipe is yet to materialize. But let us take heart. One of pawpaw’s redeeming qualities is its fine fall color. After fruiting, the tree takes on a tired look, but soon the leaves go yellow with a striking green venation, like Swiss chard, or like a child’s first painting of a leaf in color.