The 2022 Season is just starting!
The Full Story
There's a children's song that goes:
"Picking up the pawpaws and putting them in the basket, way down yonder in the pawpaw patch"
While pawpaws have been growing in North America longer than most people realize (they are a native tree fruit), many of us have no idea what they are!
These are pawpaw flowers which bloom starting in late March. Pawpaws are beetle pollinated and when these beautiful blossoms open I have to wonder how this works since it always seems too cold for the beetles. Yet, every year...
Here they grow!
There are baby pawpaws on the trees. They generally grow in clusters of 4-5, but sometimes there's a singleton. The pawpaws stay green the whole time they are on the tree, developing a slight yellowing of the green as they get close to ripe. If you pick a pawpaw too soon, it will never finish ripening. This, plus the fact that the ripe fruit doesn't stay pretty for long, is why you don't find pawpaws in the grocery store. While some growers get comfortable picking pawpaws from the tree, we prefer to let them fall as they do in nature. We pick up fallen fruit daily so the bugs and wildlife don't get too many.
So, unless you get to the farm early and walk very carefully through the pawpaw patch, pawpaws aren't usually a pick-your-own fruit. You can order them online through the farm store by the pound for pick up. Quantities are typically limited during the early part of the season.
Save & Enjoy
Pawpaws can be stored in the refrigerator for weeks. An open plastic bag works well to prevent dessication but also not hold too much humidity. The skin will darken as the pawpaw continues to ripen in the fridge, turning to black. The meat of the fruit will darken and change flavor as it gets more ripe. Some people like freshly ripe pawpaws, others like them very ripe. You'll have to experiment to find your happy pawpaw place.
Pawpaws can be enjoyed plain or cooked into custards, pies, breads and more. You can store pawpaw pulp long term by removing the seeds and skin, smashing the pulp and freezing it. It's best to freeze in measured amounts so you don't have to defrost the entire stash to get what you need.