Pawpaw

Last night, when I went to check if my sedum were flowering (they weren’t), I could smell ripe fruit.  Pawpaw fruits were ripening and some had fallen on the ground, so I picked them up and brought them in.

pawpaw05

The pawpaw (Asimina triloba) isn’t well known, but it is a tropical-looking fruit tree that is native to much of eastern North America, from Michigan and Ontario south almost to the Gulf of Mexico.  I planted three trees about a decade ago; now, they are 15 to 20 feet (4.5 to 6 m) tall and have been producing fruit for about five years.  They flowered in May.

pawpaw02

There are many more fruit on the trees this year than in the past.

pawpaw03

It’s difficult to describe what pawpaw fruit tastes (and smells) like.  Some say it is like banana custard, but I don’t think so.  Others describe it as a mix of pineapple and mango, which is more accurate in my opinion.  To me, it smells…very fruity.  We haven’t yet tried the fruit this year, but we made ice cream with some last year.  It was all right, except for a bitter aftertaste.  It may be that the pawpaw isn’t for me; some people simply don’t like it.

pawpaw04

I will post more about the pawpaw after we eat some of this year’s crop.  Hopefully my opinion will improve.  Although the trees have produced fruit for several years, last year was the first year we were able to try any.  I may not be a fan, but the squirrels like it and took all the fruit in the previous years.  For more information about the pawpaw, you can refer to websites from Kentucky State University, Peterson Pawpaws, or Midwest Fruit Explorers.

Update:  I shared pawpaw fruit with some people at work.  We decided that it smells like pineapple and mango, and there was also banana in the flavor when we ate it.  The fruit is rather soft and mushy.  Best of all, there was no bitter aftertaste!  It may be that the bitterness comes from the seeds, and care is needed in removing them.

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About brianbreczinski

work: chemist, NMR manager; hobbies: gardening, reading, photography, electronics, biking, woodworking
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9 Responses to Pawpaw

  1. I was beginning to resent you and all your harvests, blackberries and now pawpaw, the one fruit I’ve been dying to taste. I felt better after the bitter comment. I know, I know, I’m evil! I actually have a pawpaw tree, but it’s stayed a seedling after more than 5 yrs, no kidding, don’t know why it doesn’t grow. But of course it won’t give any fruits since it needs another variety for pollination. It has sprouted a sucker by the way. So now I have 2 very small/short trees.

    • If it makes you jealous, then it’s all worthwhile! 😉 I think you live near Philadelphia, so it’d be a 2-3 hour drive if you wanted some. You can probably find closer sources.

      My pawpaws have a lot of suckers, which I cut off from time to time. I’ve read that they’ll turn into a shrub if you let the suckers grow, and I’d rather have trees. They grow pretty slowly at first, then take off, so yours might get big fast now. Has it bloomed? Pawpaws are understory trees, but they seem to grow better if they get more sun.

      I wonder if the bitter taste is related to my ability to taste (and enjoy) the bitter hop flavors in IPA and similar beers. Or it could just be that my pawpaws don’t taste very good; they are all seedling trees rather than selected varieties. I originally had two known varieties of pawpaws, but one tree was damaged and I think grew back from below the graft and the other died and I replaced it with a seedling. The third was a seedling, to make sure I would get the necessary cross-pollination that you mention. The KSU site has a lot of recipes, maybe I’ll find something I like.

  2. Jeez, you’re no angel! 🙂 No, mine has never bloomed, maybe because I planted it too close to a pine tree, so it doesn’t get enough sun. I think I’ll try to dig out the sucker, plant it somewhere else, then get another variety. And then maybe 5 yrs from now I’ll get pawpaws. In the meantime, I’ll just keep eating pineapples and mangoes, which is not a bad idea!

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