The American pawpaw is a North American fruit. It grows on the largest edible fruit tree on the continent, mostly in the east, from Florida to southern Canada. It’s not as common or popular as it used to be, but people are becoming more interested in this fruit that’s often forgotten. The taste of pawpaw is bright and tropical, and it can be eaten on its own. It tastes great in desserts and other dishes that usually call for bananas.
The Asimina triloba tree grows in the eastern United States and southern Canada, and its fruit is called pawpaw. Pawpaws are the most northern plant in the Annonaceae family, mostly made up of plants that grow in tropical and subtropical areas. They are the largest edible fruit that grows in North America. They are 2 to 6 inches (5 to 16 cm) long and 1 to 3 inches (3 to 7 cm) wide.
What is a Pawpaw?
The pawpaw, also called the Hoosier banana, Appalachian banana, and Quaker Delight is a tropical fruit that grows in North America.
The pawpaw tree is a small tree that grows in the understory in the eastern United States and southern parts of Canada, such as Ontario. Pawpaws are related to the custard apple, the soursop, and the cherimoya. Their beautiful maroon-colored flowers produce fresh fruit that needs to be pollinated by flies and beetles. The berry from this is the largest edible fruit native to the United States. It is high in vitamin C and has greenish-yellow skin that turns deep yellow-brown when it is ready to eat. Like the seeds in a Fuyu persimmon, pawpaw seeds are pretty big and easy to get out.
Pawpaws were a big part of the diet of the first European settlers, and they were also eaten on the famous Lewis and Clark expedition. In the early 1900s, pawpaw was one of the most popular fall fruits. After that, it lost popularity and was mostly forgotten. Researchers, food lovers, and plant breeders have given the pawpaw a slight comeback in the past few years. In September, the city of Albany, Ohio, has the Pawpaw Festival.
The pawpaw is green with dark spots on the outside. Inside, the soft flesh is either a creamy whitish-taupe color or a brighter yellow. Large dark seeds are scattered all over the soft flesh. People often eat the fruit raw or put it in sweet foods. People should not eat the seeds or skin of pawpaw because they are poisonous when chewed. The grown fruit is still hard to find in stores and can be more expensive than other fruits.
Pawpaw also goes by false banana, pawpaw apple, custard banana, and Hoosier banana.
How to Make an Easy Pawpaw Bread Recipe?
The fruit of the Pawpaw tree is used to make a delicious, moist quick bread called Pawpaw bread. The pawpaw tree grows sweet, smooth-skinned fruits that look like papayas on the outside and have a banana-flavored custard inside. This filling, which tastes like custard, is great for fall baking.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- One teaspoon of baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- One teaspoon of cinnamon
- ½ cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¾ cup light or dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- Two large eggs
- ⅓ cup plain Greek yogurt (you can also substitute sour cream or cream cheese)
- 2 cups pawpaw purée, mashed
- ½ cup chopped pecans (optional)
- Set the oven temperature to 350°F. Use cooking spray or a bit of butter to grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan.
- Mix the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl by sifting or whisking.
- Mix the butter, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a separate bowl. Use a hand mixer or a stand mixer to beat for about 2 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and almost fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, ensuring the first one is fully mixed before adding the next. Fold in the yogurt and pawpaw purée just until they are mixed.
- Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until there are no more floury pockets. If you want to use pecans, mix them in.
- Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 45–60 minutes until a toothpick or paring knife inserted in the middle of the loaf comes out clean. After 30 minutes, check on the pawpaw bread every few minutes to see how it’s doing.
- Place the pan on a wire rack and let the bread cool down before taking it out of the oven.
What do Pawpaws Taste Like?
When pawpaw fruits are ready, they get a smooth, custard-like texture and taste like bananas, mango, or papaya. The sweet, custardy tropical fruit pawpaw can be eaten raw when it’s ripe, but it’s also a star ingredient in smoothies and desserts like pawpaw ice cream, moist pawpaw quick bread, and even pawpaw puddings. People often say that the taste of pawpaw is like a cross between a banana, kiwi, and mango. It’s a tropical fruit with a slightly bitter aftertaste and a nice zing when you take your first bite. The soft, tangy flesh is easy to chew and slurp right out of the peel.
Pawpaw vs. Papaya
Papaya is sometimes called pawpaw, which makes it easy to mix it up with pawpaw. The main difference is where the fruit grows. Pawpaws are grown in North America, while papayas are grown in the tropical areas of Mexico and South America. There is no connection between the two plants. Pawpaw is usually smaller than papaya and looks like a greenish-brown mango with an oval shape. Both pawpaw and papaya have a tropical taste, but pawpaw is more like banana, and papaya is more like mango. Pawpaw seeds can’t be eaten, but papaya seeds can.
Where to Buy Pawpaw?
Pawpaw is a rare fruit that doesn’t grow as well as other fruits, so it’s not easy to find. It’s also fragile and easy to damage, so it’s not the best for shipping or putting on grocery store shelves. It costs a lot because it is sold by the pound.
You should check out the local farmer’s markets in the Midwest or Mid-Atlantic in September and early October. The best thing to do is to try this fruit. You could also find someone who grows pawpaw or knows where to look for the green clusters and book a foraging trip. Pawpaws aren’t usually sold in grocery stores or farmers’ markets. Still, some rare fruit growers outside of the area have started experimenting with small harvests, and frozen pawpaw pulp can be found online.
All pawpaw fruit trees come from the same wild plant, a short, hardy tree that didn’t get eaten by bugs. Scientists have made hybrids like Sunflower, Taylor, Mary Foos Johnson, Mitchel, Davis, and Rebecca Gold. If you come across pawpaws, they probably won’t be called anything else. It’s not as fun to look for different kinds as it is to buy apples.
What are the Potential Health Benefits of Eating Pawpaws?
Adding pawpaws to your diet could help your health in some ways. But not enough research has been done on how eating pawpaw affects human health.
Good Source of Many Nutrients
Like many other fruits, pawpaws are full of vitamins and minerals. Pawpaws have a lot of iron, magnesium, manganese, and vitamin C. Keeping the right amount of vitamin C in the body is important for a healthy immune system, protection against illness and infection, healthy skin, and more. Neutrophils, white blood cells, have 10–100 times more vitamin C than the average level of vitamin C in plasma, which is the liquid part of blood. Neutrophils are the first line of defense of the innate immune system because they kill pathogens that would otherwise cause infections.
Also, pawpaws have a lot of magnesium, which most people don’t get enough of. If your magnesium levels aren’t as high as they should be, you may be more likely to get high blood pressure, a stroke, or hardened arteries. Pawpaws are also a good source of iron that doesn’t come from heme. To keep your iron levels at their best, you need to eat nonheme iron and heme iron. This is because the nonheme iron in plant foods isn’t as bioavailable (easy to absorb and use) as the heme iron in animal foods or the iron in supplements.
Contains Protective Plant Compounds
In addition to vitamins and minerals, pawpaws have many plant compounds, such as phenolic compounds like epigallocatechin, epicatechin, chlorogenic acid, and p-coumaric acid, which have antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
But one study suggests that the number of antioxidants in pawpaws may decrease as the fruit ripens. Even though pawpaws have the same amount of antioxidants as tropical fruits like guava, papaya, and bananas, there have been far fewer studies on their possible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Increasing your Intake of Any Fruit will Likely Benefit your Health
Even though there isn’t a lot of research on pawpaws and how they might help your health, eating more fruits and vegetables can help your health in many ways.
Many studies show that eating more fruits and vegetables may lower your risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, help you maintain a healthy weight, improve your mental health, and more. If you like pawpaws and can get them, you should try to eat them. But remember that pawpaws are hard to find and go bad quickly, so most people don’t have easy access to them.
It would help if you didn’t store pawpaw for too long because it doesn’t keep well when it’s not on the tree. When you find the fruit, please leave it in the shell until you are ready to eat it. You can also take out the meat and store it in a sealed container in the fridge for a few days. But in general, eat the pawpaws as soon as you get them. Fresh pawpaw can be hard to find if you don’t live in the Midwest, especially outside of its short season, which is a few weeks in late summer in Southern states like Florida and early to mid-fall in places like Kentucky, Michigan, Nebraska, Indiana, Kansas, and Ohio.