paw paw consumption

pile of ripe paw paws

pile of ripe paw paws

the paw paws have been spreading their scent around the house pretty strongly for a couple of days now.  each day i would give them a little squeeze to see how ripe they were, and if they are ready.  the paw paws pretty much give 3 indicators that they are ready; they start smelling intensely strong of tropical fruit, they start to become soft, and they go from straight green to developing some brown coloring.  they are very ready now, a day after i took these pictures.

once the paw paws are ripe you have a pretty short window before they become a disgusting pile of mush, one of the main reasons that paw paws have yet to make it as a commercially viable fruit.  now that the paw paws are ripe i’m going to have to be pretty good about getting them eaten, they can be dried, and they freeze well.  i am going to freeze these pawpaw as they ripen and then make frozen paw paw custard, rumored to be among thomas jefferson’s favorite desserts.  why you would care about some old white slave owners dessert preferences is beyond me, but i’ve included this odd fact for conversation value.  i’ve thought about doing some paw paw infused mead too, but i don’t have very much mead or paw paws.

the yellow flesh of the paw paw

the yellow flesh of the paw paw

paw paw’s themselves are pretty hit or miss, unlike commercial fruits each paw paw tree is genetically different from one another – not grafted clones.  this means they have different sizes, shapes, flavors, and amounts of flesh.  the amount of flesh to seed ratio is a particularly important aspect of the paw paw, after removing the seeds of the average paw paw you can be left with less than a tablespoon of flesh – too much work for too little food.

totally full of seeds!

totally full of seeds!

paw paws have this very strange tropical flavor – a bit of mango, a bit of banana, maybe even some pineapple.  each one of them is a little different flavor.  its like nothing you would expect to come out of the forest of michigan.

after removing all the seeds, i’m soaking them in water till i can get them in the ground, hopefully only a day or two.  i’m hoping this helps them sprout a little better, as well as keeping them from drying out, which inhibits germination.  last time i saved them and made paw paw jewelry but this time i plan to plant them all so i can have a forest of paw paws across the city.  belle island seems like a ripe place for paw paw plantings.  i’ll keep you updated on the sprouting plants as well as the quality of the custard or mead whichever ends up happening.

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4 responses to “paw paw consumption

  1. Hiya,

    We got some paw paws too! We’re going out foraging again tomorrow. I was looking for some tips and came across your beautiful site!

    I’d love to hear how the dessert turns out. We usually eat and share so many than none ever get processed. Btw I think it’s very interesting what Thomas Jefferson ate – a real foodie back when most things were local.

    Too funny I found your site – don’t worry I won’t out you.

    • our friends are having a party for sukkot – the jewish harvest festival – potluck as part of it, so i’m going to bring the paw paw custard for the
      potluck. good luck foraging, and thanks for not outing me, i’ll likely post some on paw paw custard soon.

  2. Beautiful article! Thank you for preparing it and providing such great photos.

  3. Thomas Jefferson was so much more than a slave owner. You ought to do some reading. Thanks for the paw-paw info. Best of luck with your pudding.

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