An Amazing Super Fruit: The Pawpaw!
September brings signs of crisp mornings, falling leaves and ripe pawpaw fruits. If you aren’t familiar with the pawpaw, it is a true miracle fruit.
You can find pawpaw in many, if not all, of our parks. They grow in wooded areas and are in the understory, typically intermixed with sugar maple saplings. The image above was taken in Sharon Woods, and there are lots of pawpaw trees on our Gorge Trail. You can also find many on the Miami Fort Trail at Shawnee Lookout. (Of course, we ask that you leave any pawpaw fruit you see in the parks for the animals!)
The pawpaw is an oval fruit that can range in size from a few ounces to a pound. The fruit matures from green to yellow and is packed with vitamins and minerals. The fruit has a unique taste: some say it’s like a banana, others say that due to the texture, it’s more like an avocado. Either way, it’s a flavor not to be missed.
Pawpaw was once a prized crop grown by many Ohio farmers. With the advent of refrigeration, tropical fruits such as mangoes, bananas and papaya soon took the pawpaw’s place on the shelves. Pawpaw trees are one of the few species deer don’t bother, and they require little care since they are native to our area. Pawpaw twigs contain compounds that treat cancer. The fruits are high in protein vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, niacin, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, zinc, copper and manganese. Pawpaw fruits also contain all of the essential amino acids!
Ready to give the pawpaw a try? The fruit can be eaten raw. Just peel the skin, remove the seeds and enjoy the pulp. If you’re up for a culinary adventure, here’s a simple recipe:
Pawpaw Cookies with Black Walnuts
Makes about 16 cookies
3/4 c. puréed pawpaw pulp
1 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 c. butter
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. black walnuts
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F and grease one large cookie sheet.
2. Peel and seed fresh pawpaws and process in a food processor until fine.
3. Sift together the flour and baking powder and set aside.
4. Cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg. Add the flour mixture and then add the pawpaw pulp.
5. Chop half the nuts (reserve 16 pieces) and blend them in.
6. Drop a teaspoon of dough at a time onto the prepared cookie sheet, and press a piece of black walnut onto the top of each cookie.
7. Bake 12 minutes or until brown across the top.
Recipe courtesy of Mark F. Sohn, of Pikeville, Kentucky, from Mountain Country Cooking, St. Martin’s Press, New York, 1996.