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Our Native Fruit, the Pawpaw!

Updated: Jul 13, 2023


Mary and Sam holding pawpaws
Mary Dudley and Sam Settlemyre from the Civic Garden Center of Greater Cincinnati pose with some foraged pawpaws.

A native fruit that tastes like a combination of a mango and a banana, pawpaws are found throughout the eastern United States. They were a valued food source for many Native American tribes and helped sustain the early European settlers as they migrated across the continent.


Shop: Fans of the pawpaw cultivate and distribute this powerful fruit at farmers markets and festivals in the greater Cincinnati area in September and October. Since pawpaws are a native plant, they grow easily in your yard. If you enjoy this fruit, you should consider growing a few pawpaw trees. You’ll need trees from different root stocks growing near each other to get the fruit. Pawpaw fruits are green in color and are speckled with brown spots when ripe.


Store: Pawpaws don’t travel well, and the fruit is prone to bruising. These challenges have made commercial storage difficult. “Fully ripe pawpaw fruit last only a few days at room temperature but may be kept for a week in the refrigerator.”[1] Some experts suggest that it is difficult to ripen pawpaw fruit on your countertop and suggest only harvesting ripe fruit. Ripe pawpaw flesh, with skin and seeds removed, can be pureed and frozen for later use.


Share: Pawpaw Jell-O

Ingredients:

· 2 c. pawpaw pulp

· 1 package lemon Jell-O (6 oz.)

Directions:

1. Make Jell-O according to instructions on package.

2. Cut open your pawpaw and scoop out the flesh, remove the seeds.

3. Mash up your pawpaw and refrigerate

4. When your Jell-O has thickened to a syrup consistency stir in pawpaw pulp.

5. Refrigerate.


Pawpaws in a basket

Pawpaws on a plate

[1] (Layne, 1977)

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