The unusual and elusive pawpaw fruit is now available for $5.99 per pound at Cornell Orchards store on Route 366, as well as P&C Fresh. But the soft, tropical-tasting fruit ripens quickly and bruises easily, so they won’t be available for long.
The homely pawpaw fruits are light green, with some large brown splotches. To eat them, cut them in half, remove the seeds (about the size of lima beans), and scoop out the custardy flesh. Some people describe the taste as a mix of banana, guava, mango, and pineapple. Pawpaws can be eaten on their own, mixed into smoothies, or baked in breads or puddings.
Although their taste and look is reminiscent of the tropics, pawpaws are native to North America, including New York State. They grow on small trees with big broad leaves.
The pawpaws in the Cornell Orchards store originate from an experiment that Ian Merwin, Cornell Professor of Horticulture, started in 1999. On the Cornell research farm in Lansing, near Cayuga Lake, 332 trees of 28 different varieties grow. “We are evaluating all the general aspects of this native but little studied fruit species: survival, yield, growth, fruit attributes, pollination ecology, etc,” he said in 2009.
After a decade of research, Merwin says the biggest surprise is how well the pawpaws grow here. “[They] have done better here than in many other regions of the US that were thought to be more in its comfort zone,” he says.
Want to learn more? Check out this NPR Tiny Desk Kitchen video on Pawpaws.
Photo credit: Pawpaws, by AF.