Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pick up some paw paws

It’s pawpaw season, friends. That means it’s time to find those prized fruits and enjoy them. For me, it means turning the fruits into puree that I can freeze and use this winter.

But let me not get ahead of myself. I do tend to get so excited about paw paws that I forget what’s first. So first, you should know it’s the largest fruit that’s native to the United States. It grows in the eastern part of the country on trees. They grow in the wild or can be cultivated. When the fruit is ripe depends on where you are and the summer’s weather. In Kentucky, you can generally find them from late August through early October.

The second thing you should know is that when they are slightly soft (they give a little) they are ripe. You can cut the fruit down the middle and pull out the large, black seeds. Eat them and they will make you sick. However, eat the luscious pulp and you’re in for a vitamin and anti-oxidant treat that will make your taste buds dance with delight. The taste varies from fruit to fruit, but tends to be a sort of banana, peach, mango taste with a texture similar to that of an avocado.

Third, know that the ripe fruit is quite sweet. That, plus its texture, means it can work well in some baked goods, like muffins and breads. That also means that if using it instead of another fruit, like a mashed banana, you might want to cut down on the sugar. And what’s better than a natural sweetener? For me, something natural and healthy is a choice way to satisfy my sweet tooth.

Every time I puree another batch of paw paws, I foresee winter days of creating new treats for us to try. I simply cut open the fruit, use a spoon to get out the pulp and to separate away the seeds, then put it into my blender to puree. I measure it and put into snack-bag (I cup) and quart (2 cups) freezer bags. Nothing else in my freezer has the same yellowish-orange color.

My husband and I have been splitting paw paws to eat because the fruit is so rich I can’t consume a whole one on my own. I’ve also made us ice cream and smoothies, in which I also added raspberries since they’re ripe. Here are two recipes you can try.

Paw Paw Ice Cream (with thanks to the folks at the KentuckyState University Paw Paw Research Program. (Other recipes available on their site.)

2 cups whole milk
2 cups cream
¾ cup paw paw puree
1 heaping cup sugar

Mix and pour into your ice cream maker then wait for the fabulous result.

Paw Paw Raspberry Smoothie

¼ cup paw paw puree
¼ cup raspberries
½ cup plain yogurt

Blend and enjoy, or chill first if you like.

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