NewsSeasonal Spotlight: Pawpaws

Posted Sep 14, 2022

One of the best parts of having a year round farmers’ market is getting to see how the produce changes with the seasons. When we started our outdoor season this year, we saw spinach, asparagus, ramps and more! As we moved into summer, we welcomed strawberries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, among plenty of other products. Some products we see for long stretches of time and others are only available for a market or two. 

Last Saturday, we welcomed a fruit that fits into the latter category. A GCM vendor, Oriana’s Orchard, had Pawpaws at GCM Lincoln Park. It’s possible that you’ve never heard of a pawpaw before, and you’re definitely not alone. Interested in learning more about pawpaws? Keep reading for our seasonal spotlight. 

The first question is… what in the world is a pawpaw? According to The Spruce Eats, “The American pawpaw is a fruit native to North America. It grows on the continent's largest edible fruit tree.” They continued on to explain that the pawpaw “is not as common or popular as it once was, though there is a growing interest in this often forgotten fruit.” 

In a piece on the unique fruit, Vox shared that, “Pawpaws are delicious, have incredible health benefits, and require no pesticides or herbicides to thrive. Yet over the years, they have fallen into obscurity, being eclipsed in popularity by other fruits like apples, cherries, and bananas.”

While they may have become eclipsed and forgotten over the years, they once were a very important fruit in America. According to Vox, this fruit “was a vital dietary staple for early settlers, Lewis and Clark subsisted largely on pawpaws and nuts on many of their expeditions, and the fruit is said to have been one of George Washington’s favorites.” 

It’s also possible that you’ve never heard of pawpaws because they are difficult to get. With a short growing period and fast ripening time, these fruits are highly prized and are only available for a short period. According to National Geographic, “Pawpaw trees bear fruit for only about six weeks in late summer, the fruit bruises easily and, after picking, only lasts a few days—about a week, refrigerated—presenting significant commercial challenges.” We’re lucky to have them available at Oriana’s Orchard for two markets this season. 

Pawpaws have a custard-like texture, similar to a mango. However, the flavor is a bit milder than a mango. A pawpaw tastes almost like a cross between a mango and a banana. National Geographic described the flavor of pawpaws as “a banana crossed with pineapple and mango, with notes of vanilla, and some say, cantaloupe.” 

Wondering what to do with them? The best and most common practice is to eat them raw like you would a mango! If you cut it down the center, it is easy to scoop the fruit out with a spoon. 

The Spruce Eats also shared that pawpaws are good in desserts like pudding and ice cream and can often be used to replace bananas. They recommend trying to use pawpaws in smoothies and cream pie, and they shared that certain breweries have tried using pawpaws in unique fruit beers. 

Interested in giving them a try? Stop by Oriana’s Orchard this Saturday at GCM Lincoln Park before it’s too late! We also heard that Seedling Farms will have their selection of pawpaws available in a couple weeks. We will be sure to keep you all updated. 

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