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The Pawpaw: Nature’s Best Kept Secret is Hiding Right Under Out Nose 

This fall, move over apples and make way for Pawpaw fruit 

Often referred to as a hillbilly mango, Pawpaw’s taste resembles that of tropical fruit. When ripe, they have a sweet yet savory smell similar to mangoes and bananas. I only recently discovered what a pawpaw is and that it grows throughout Ohio and most of the Eastern United States. 

Where can I get Pawpaws?

That is the challenge of this delicious fruit. The first known recording of a Pawpaw fruit tree was in 1541, and Native Americans long used it for its fruit and medicinal properties. 

But the fruit has an extremely short shelf life and delicate skin, making it impossible to transport distances. 

While some orchards sell directly or to farmers’ markets, the tree can still be found along a damp woodland edge, such as the bottoms of hillsides, creek banks, and ravines. One tree, over time, will create a colony of trees growing several feet away from the parent tree. The tropical-looking foliage and delicious fruit help make the tree recognizable. 

The science behind the Pawpaw

Plant scientist Neal Peterson conducted extensive research over many decades to study and improve the Pawpaw’s durability. Today, some of his cultivated varieties are grown in orchards nationwide. 

But work remains. Ohio State University continues researching the fruit’s viability and extensive health benefits. Pawpaws are a nutrition powerhouse. They are very high in protein, fat, minerals, and amino acids.

Ohio Pawpaw Festival

September 15-17, head over to Lake Snowden in Albany, Ohio, for their annual celebration of America’s largest native tree. 

The event explores the history and future of the pawpaw tree with presentations and activities such as cooking, growing, and other related topics. There will be competition for the biggest Pawpaw, a cook-off, the always popular Pawpaw eating contest, and many culinary delights made with this celebrated fruit. Visit the Ohio Pawpaw Festival website for all the latest information. 

Now is the time to get your hands on some Pawpaws. The season runs from late August into October. 

If you have experienced the Pawpaw, please share with us in the comments and consider sharing this story with your friends and family. 

For more articles to whet your appetite, check out delicious recipes at Compass Cuisine.

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2 Responses

  1. I remember eating these as a kid growing up in West Virginia in the 1950 and 60’s .I have not seen any since moving to Ohio…

    1. Some of us at CompassOhio have never had them. Hopefully, this blog will help you find some.

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