Can’t make this sh*t up!
Sorry for the harsh language, but now that I have your attention, I think you are going to really enjoy this story — it’s bizarre and 100% true.
We have lived in our current house for many years and have discovered many new edible items just growing in nature because of the large wooded area behind our house. This story is about a tree called Pawpaw which produces the largest edible fruit native to the United States. We tried to harvest some Pawpaw fruit for many years, but the raccoons seemed to get them all. This year was very different and worth the wait. My hubby was hunting chanterelles (another discovery) and he found about 5 Pawpaws that were actually not eaten by the critters, so we finally got to taste them. LOVE IT! It tastes kinda like a combination of pineapple, mango and banana. Where has this fruit been hiding all my life! Oh yeah… My backyard.
Festival of pawpaws
We went to a Festival of Nations event at Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, Missouri and to visit our friend (Bernie), a chef, who had a booth there offering delicious Malaysian food. If you’re in St. Louis, Missouri, you should eat at one of his restaurants (Akar) (Hiro Poké)He, like us, loves chanterelles and is not afraid to try new things. We packed up a cooler and took him some chanterelles and pawpaws. After our visit we were walking back to our car, when my hubby noticed a bunch of pawpaw trees just about 75 yards from Bernie’s booth. I ran back to get Bernie so he could see the trees and know what to look for in the future. Right about that moment my hubby pointed out this huge dedication plaque on the ground telling us about the pawpaw trees.
Now at this point Bernie hasn’t even tasted the fruit yet. He picks one up, we explain that there are a lot of large seeds and you don’t want to eat the skin. He doesn’t waste another second and takes his first taste. The look on his face was just magical. He is so happy and loves this new fruit. We explain that even though the tree is loaded with them, you need to wait until they fall off the tree and are somewhat soft to the touch. Just about 2 seconds later one actually fell to the ground. He hopped over to get it. Seriously, we had no idea these trees were in this park, and the fact that his booth was located so close to the plaque describing the trees is mindblowing. How does this even happen? Fate? Destiny?
I needed a bigger purse
We say goodbye to our dear friend and continue on journey to our car which is about 2 miles away. We came across several more pawpaw trees as well as persimmon, hickory, chestnut, pecan and the biggest ginkgo biloba tree I’ve ever seen. Can’t eat the fruit from a ginkgo tree, but it was still impressive. We picked up as many pawpaws as we could carry, but alas, I had brought my small purse that day.
So, we are all now in love with this yummy pawpaw and are trying to decide what to make with them. You can totally eat them raw, and I have eaten several now, but I have been on this ice cream making kick lately, so that’s what I did.
What’s in a name?
Well, according the plaque, the pawpaw has several interesting nick names. “Poor Man’s Banana”, “American Custard Apple”, “Missouri Banana”. Whatever you call it, it’s delicious and somewhat tropical. Sadly, you will not likely see them in your local grocery store because they have a very short shelf life and don’t transport well. But, on the bright side, they’re free. I’m sure you can freeze the pulp for future use. If you have this exotic fruit in your backyard or park, it would be a shame to not taste it.
Homemade Pawpaw Ice Cream
- 2 Cups Pawpaw Fruit peeled and seeded, about 11 pawpaws
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
- 3/4 Cup Whole Milk
- 1 1/4 Cups Heavy Cream
- Pinch of Salt
- Slice fruit open, scoop out flesh with a spoon (kinda like an avacado) and remove seeds. This is messy work, but it will be worth it.
- Purée all ingredients in a blender until smooth.
- Have your kitchen aid mixer with frozen ice cream bowl and attachment ready to go. Bowl must be frozen for at least 15 hours before it can be used.
- Set mixer speed to "stir", pour in the mix and let it churn for about 25 minutes.
- Pour immediately into freezer safe container and freeze for 4 hours.
Poor Man’s Banana • American Custard Apple • Missouri Banana
Scoop the flesh out of the fruit, remove the seeds, puree in a blender and freeze in anair tight container.
It tastes like a combination of pineapple, mango and banana.
Pawpaw – A custard fruit that has a very short harvest and shelf life.