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Pawpaw Processing

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Our Sunday dawned bright and beautiful, warm and partly cloudy. A good thing, because having done it inside and out, there was no way I was going to process pawpaws in my kitchen. It is a messy bidness.
So we set up outside on the picanic table.  Photos of the pawpaw witches by Phoebe Thompson.

First to go were the squishy ones. There's an optimum ripeness to pawpaws. When you can squeeze a pawpaw right out of its skin, it's ready to go. The pulp pulls away nicely from the shiny seeds and you get the most bang for your buck then. Too green, and the pulp sticks to the seeds and skin and you lose a lot. It tastes best when ripe. Overripe fruit turns black, and the pulp gets orangeish. 

Believe me, you can smell when they're ripe. Our friend Nina found her first pawpaw stand in the woods by smelling it!

You squish the pawpaws down into the colander until you have only seeds and skins left.

Anne developed a method of squeezing the pulp and seeds out of the skin before squishing it in the colander. This was a good innovation, because the green skin is a bit bitter, and you don't want it to find its way into the final product. Anne's pulp was Premium. Mine was full of little green bits that had to be picked out, and definitely would have been ranked Standard Grade.
photo by Liam Thompson
Ideally, what pours out the bottom is pure gold.

photo by Liam Thompson
 We worked out there in the sun all day. It was like making mud pies with your best friend.  It's the kind of thing country women have done for centuries, and don't do enough these days, in my opinion. Too much twiddling away at keyboards. Not enough gooshing.


Reminds me of the time Lucy and Ethel stomped grapes in the large wooden barrel. Looks like you girls had just as much fun. Glad to see you had such a wonderful day.

Just a thought- have you ever tried processing the pawpaws through a food mill? Seems that would be a lot easier than using a colander. I bought one in Amish country 25 years ago, still use it multiple times a year when I make jam or applesauce. Saves tons of time, plus creates a perfect consistency with no skin or seeds. It's the bomb!


Posted by Anonymous October 11, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Oh, yeah, I'm all for gooshing. My friend Victoria and I made peach ginger jam this summer, jabbering away and realizing we parted company as to how much ginger we wanted in our respective batches. Women will always find these crazy wonderful ways to bond.


Ohhhh, a colander! What a clever idea. I found a few pawpaws back in September and kept them in the fridge until they were soft enough to skin easily...but not knowing the proper technique I squidged them between my fingers and shot pawpaw seeds all over the kitchen. Looks like you have it down to a science. I hope you're going to post next about how you use all that precious pawpaw pulp!

How did you process all that fruit outside without being swarmed by yellowjackets and other flying things?

Gahanna, we had a very curious white-faced hornet and a couple of yellowjacket scouts come up to investigate. Developed a brand new way of dealing with it. The second the hymenopteran landed on our precious pulp, we dropped a blob of pulp over it and scooped it out with a spoon. A quick squish on the sidewalk eliminated the scout, and the hordes failed to follow. Let the scout go back to the nest with a craw full of pawpaw and you have a big problem. Sounds kind of draconian, but there are some creatures over which I have no problem asserting my dominance. And better to kill the first three than fight the next hundred.

Do you eat it like applesauce? Cook it ? Blend it into drinks?

Wish we could have been there.

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