September Is Pawpaw Season In The Eastern United States
Chances are, if you have ever been hiking in low areas, particularly near stream beds, you have walked right by one of nature’s tastiest treats, the PawPaw. If you bothered to look up during mid to late September, you would notice the oblong, green fruit. But if you want to collect some to eat, you had better hurry before the raccoons and other forest animals snatch them up.
What Is A Pawpaw?
Pawpaw, or Asimina trilobal, is the largest of the native fruits in the U.S. It grows in the eastern part of the country from Canada all the way down to Florida. A deciduous tree, it grows up to 35’ tall and can usually be found growing in groups in low lying areas. Its leaves are large at 10”-12” inches long and 4”-5” wide.
Pawpaw is referred to by many names and versions including papaw, pawpaw, paw paw, paw-paw, common pawpaw, Quaker delight, and hillbilly mango. The last name, hillbilly mango, refers to the fruit’s taste which is sort of a mango-banana combination.
Benefits of Eating Pawpaw
First of all, they are simply delicious. An almost tropically flavor that is uniquely their own. Although it can sometimes be found in markets, finding them in the woods makes them seem even more of a specialty. Pawpaws do not have a very long shelf life, usually just around a week.
Pawpaws also offer a nutritional value. They are higher in protein than most other fruits, pawpaws are also packed with antioxidants, dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals. What’s more, pawpaws are naturally gluten free and non-GMO.
Finally, when you eat a Pawpaw, you are eating a part of American history (we know, sappy, sorry). George Washington and Thomas Jefferson enjoyed them. Lewis and Clark relied on them in their expedition.
How To Eat Pawpaw
There are several recipes out there for making a puree and blending them into smoothies, but we are going to focus on the basics, simply eating them as they are.
Slice lengthwise straight down the middle, pulling the two halves apart to separate. Pop out the seeds, then get ready to spoon up the soft, sweet and delicious flesh.
If foraging through the woods looking for Pawpaws does not suit you, they can be grown in the garden. They prefer rich, well drained soils. Although the can grow in the shade, they will fruit better in full sun. Young trees should be staked to help them grow strong.
The biggest limitation with growing Pawpaw is getting the flowers pollinated. Because the pollen from a tree is not ready when the stigma on the same tree is, it is best to plant several trees to assure pollination.
There are some cultivated varieties available. These generally will produce fruit at a younger age.
For additional information about Pawpaw, visit the RightPlantz Plant Finder entry at Pawpaw.
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