Hi everyone -- Sean here, Chief Executive Pawptimist.
Whether you've stumbled on to this post on your own, or you got here because you ordered a Paw Paw Picnic...well, we're glad you're here.
Here are ten suggestions on how to make the most of your pawpaw harvest.
- Wait until they're soft. Then wait a little longer. Some of your pawpaws may be split and squishy. That's when they're ready. Fruit that's still hard should fully ripen within a few days.
- Dive right in! The best way to enjoy a pawpaw is to cut it open and delve in. Recipes are fun, but there's nothing like tasting a fresh, ripe paw paw.
- Prep 'em! The fruit is tricky to work with, full of random seeds. I made this goofy, too-long YouTube video explaining how I process pawpaws. (But I still refer to it at the beginning of pawpaw season).
- Learn about pawpaws! My favorite book is Pawpaw: In Search of America's Forgotten Fruit by Andrew Moore. And not just because Fullsteam is mentioned in it! Looks like the paperback is on sale for less than $10 direct from the publisher, through September 14.
- Cook with them -- but be careful not to overcook them. Pawpaw fruit and puree work best as uncooked additions (ice cream, gelato, fruit as part of a cheesecake) or lightly cooked, last-minute additions (custard, sauces). Heat breaks down the aromatics and minimizes the tropical flavor.
- Order up a pawpaw cookbook! Sarah Bir's Pocket Pawpaw Cookbook is a current favorite. If you want a recipe preview, my pal Jed features Sarah's Pawpaw Lassi on his online publication, Midwesterner (pawpaws grow from Illinois to as far north as Ontario to the Carolinas).
- Forage for pawpaws. The fruit can be hard to find in the wild. Ideally, go with someone who knows a place. Once you know what to look for, tree-wise, then it's a matter of whether you'll get to the fruit before the critters do. Because...
- Wait until they fall to the ground! Like persimmons, the best pawpaws aren't picked from the tree. They're on the ground. And they might be part-feasted on by night critters like racoons and opossums.
- Save the seeds. If you do find or obtain pawpaws, and you like the fruit, save the seeds! There's a whole science to putting them into the refrigerator and then planting. It's a lot to take in, and frankly, it's a bit of overkill. I've had luck just tossing seeds into compost. To improve your odds in seed germination, I recommend this post.
- Tell someone about pawpaws. The more we know and care about the native trees, plants, and flowers of our region, the stronger the ecosystem. I'm not saying to eventually replace that Bradford Pear in favor of a pawpaw tree. I'm saying take a hatchet to that thing, break it into pieces, burn it to smithereens, and plant a pawpaw tree. Or a persimmon tree. A black walnut. You get the idea.
Didn't get your paws on a pawpaw this season? Look for American Promise, our pawpaw IPA, in about a month! It features that trademark subtropical goodness, showcased alongside juicy late-addition low alpha acid hops.