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Love's Labors, Pulped

Thursday, October 13, 2011

We had a heck of a lot of pawpaws to work through, but we could only do half, because only half were ripe enough to process. D'oh! Hence the pungency of my foyer at the moment. I will have to pay the piper tomorrow, because when they're ready, they're ready.

We wound up getting 9.5 pounds of pulp out of about 20 pounds of pawpaws--pretty much a 2:1 ratio of waste to food. I was surprised they were that pulp-rich--those huge brown seeds, the size of limas, are packed in pretty tightly.

We fed the pulp into Ziploc bags and froze it forthwith to use through the winter.

There it is: the fruit of our labor. Almost ten pounds of pawpaw pulp!

I sent half home with Anne to see what wonders she could create. Needless to say we shared a newly baked pawpaw custard for breakfast on Sunday. 
I went a little haywire on the nutmeg, but Anne was kind. We slurped it down. I have to say it was good especially when chilled overnight, so the flavor of pawpaw could pervade the whole custard. It bordered on elegant.

I beat two eggs with two cups of milk, a teaspoon of vanilla and 1/4 cup of sugar, added 1/2 cup of pawpaw pulp, added a rather too vigorous grind of nutmeg, and poured it into custard cups. Set them in 1" of water in a big Pyrex dish and baked at 325 for about an hour. They set up very nicely. Much better chilled than warm, surprisingly. It was kind of like a pawpaw flan. You turn them out of the cups and serve them upside down. Yum. Wish I had one now. Make that three.

Other uses for pawpaws, since you asked: Use it like bananas in breads, cookies, muffins. Use it in smoothies as you would bananas. (Cardamom sets the taste off very nicely). Flavor frostings with it. Make a yogurt sauce for spicy Indian food with it. My favorite use is in a cream sauce (start a white sauce using heavy cream and butter, and add about 1/2 cup of pawpaw, a squirt of honey mustard, a tablespoon or two of honey (sourwood is my fave!), salt and pepper to taste for a savory treat.

If you process your own pawpaws, be sure to get it done before they get too ripe, like my second 16 pounds did. (You'll know because they start turning black and get really soft).  Overripe pawpaw skin won't squeeze off the fruit on one piece. It goes into little bits that can sneak through the colander. And the skin can be allergenic. Believe me, I know. I'm currently on pawpaw embargo. When I'm hive-free, I'm going to try a little bit of Anne's Grade AAA skin-free pulp. Cross your fingers for me. It would be a cruel irony indeed if the Pawpaw Queen were barred forever from enjoying the harvest, processing and consumption.

For more recipes, see this awesome link Anne found:

What fun we had. It was so great to have Anne down to pawpaw country, 

show her some nice birds

                                                              make the perfect BLT

give her some gen-u-ine Boston terrier love

see her soak it all up 
and send her home with a new taste sensation. We love to share what's wonderful about southern Ohio!

Come back soon, Miss Anne! And bring THREE TOYS this time!


Sorry to hear about the allergy! I approach pawpaw with some caution - there are a lot of active chemicals in the plant, particularly in the outer surfaces - bark, leaves, fruit skin and seed coats. It's no accident that the leaves are only fed on by a few specialists such as the spicebush swallowtail caterpillar. A related plant - and one of my favorite fruits - guanabana - has been implicated in Parkinson's -like symptoms in places where it is a major part of the diet. I'm really careful to keep the skin out (after the colander I put it all through a big screen strainer) and then ration myself to no more than an ice-cube sized portion every other day or so.

Dave, that's a really helpful hint. I'm going to thaw and then strain the pulp in the second batch before trying to use it.
First, I'm going to eat a little bit of the Grade AAA pulp from Batch One, and if that goes OK, I'll move on to thawing and straining the second batch as I use it.

Thanks so much for your wisdom!


Thanks for taking us through the process and, of course, for the Chet pics.

I recently picked concord grapes for the first time in NY and was amazed at the wonderful aroma that filled the whole vineyard. I still have a small baggie of grapes in my fridge in KS just so I can smell them a little bit longer. So what do pawpaws smell like when they are ripe and ready?

Posted by Anonymous October 13, 2011 at 11:43 AM

I live in mango country and am very allergic to them. They are in the poison ivy family so at first I thought it was just the skin that made me break out, but as I have aged, even the juice affects me. A little mixed into a smoothie gives me blisters in my mouth. Be careful Pawpaw Queen.

I know I could google Pawpaws, but would you be so kind as to tell me about them. I read about your pawpaw adventure with Chet Baker, and knew pawpaws must be a southern fruit. When he put one in his mouth (I think you said that) he didn't get any allergic symptoms? Your place sounds lovely. I've deactivated my FaceBook account and am now going to focus on people's blogs--so you'll probably hear from me more often. Thanks.

haha, Chet. Oh, ok. Three toys for you. But you will have to work very hard to find the third one! Julie, it certainly was my pleasure to share the Big Pawpaw Day with you! Looking forward to the next one.

PS. Pawpaw bread is dee-licious.

hahah, Chet. Oh, ok. Three toys next time, but you will have to work very hard to find that third toy! And was my pleasure to share the Big Pawpaw Day with you. And the warbler lesson! Looking forward to more.

That woman, Anne, looks like my sister?!

Paw paw creme brulee sounds like a possibility, too!

Posted by Ahughes798 October 17, 2011 at 1:07 PM
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