in ,

Ways to Serve Pawpaw


Sharing is caring!

What would you think of a creamy, custard-like fruit that tastes like a combination of banana, mango, pineapple, melon, and berries?

The pawpaw—which is a native North American tree fruit—is just such a fruit. Sounds tropical, but the pawpaw is a temperate—meaning not tropical—tree that is native to the Mississippi Valley, a swath of the North American continent from Kentucky to Michigan.

In some parts of the world, the name pawpaw refers to papaya. The papaya is a tropical fruit, so let’s be clear, the pawpaw of North America is not the papaya.

The pawpaw looks like a plump mango and is soft and thin-skinned. Its green to yellow fruit is about 3 to 6 inches (7.5-15 cm) long, weighs 5 to 16 ounces, and has 10 to 14 black lima-bean-shaped seeds in two rows.

Serving pawpaw

The pawpaw with its wonderful combination of tropical flavors is perfect for making pies, cakes, cookies, bread, custard, pudding, and sherbet. The cream-colored flesh of the pawpaw—which is nearly puréed in preparation for cooking–shares the creamy texture of a banana. The ripe pawpaw can be eaten out of hand or chilled and served as a stand-alone dessert.

The pawpaw is best eaten out of hand but its flesh can be pulped and used in baked dessert recipes. Pawpaw pulp is a main ingredient in baked goods including pies, cakes, breads, and cookies, and in puddings, custards, and sherbets.

The pawpaw can be substituted for bananas in most recipes that call for bananas.

Pawpaw harvest season

Pawpaws are at their peak and ready for harvest from late summer through mid-autumn, August into October in the northern hemisphere.

How to choose pawpaw

Select pawpaws that give a gentle squeeze—similar to ripe peach, are unblemished, and have a pleasant, fruity aroma. The skin of the pappaw usually lightens from green to yellow or brown as it ripens and may develop blackish flecks which will not affect its flavor or edibility. The color change does not always indicate if a pawpaw is ripe.

How to store pawpaw

The pawpaw is best eaten fresh out of hand but will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days. Not fully ripe pawpaws will keep in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.

How to prepare pawpaw

The pawpaw should be rinsed, peeled, and seeded before eating. Ripe pawpaw flesh can be puréed and frozen for later use.

Pawpaw flavor partners

Pawpaws have a flavor affinity for banana, coconut, lemon, lime, melon, nectarine, orange, passion fruit, and pineapple.

Pawpaw nutrition

Pawpaws are high in vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.

About pawpaw

The pawpaw is a slender, deciduous tree that grows from about 12 to 20 feet (3.6-6 m) tall and has leathery, oval leaves. Pawpaws are soft skinned and can be difficult to transport so they have not come into the same wide cultivation as apples and pears. They are easily found at farm markets in regions where they are grown.

The pawpaw is native to the temperate woodlands of the eastern United States. It is seldom found near the Atlantic or Gulf Coasts. The pawpaw requires a minimum of 400 hours of winter chill and at least 160 frost-free days. In recent years, the pawpaw has been introduced into parts of California and the Pacific Northwest.

The pawpaw was first noted by early explorers of the North American continent who found native peoples cultivating it. Chilled pawpaws were a favorite dessert of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

The pawpaw is sometimes called the prairie banana, Indiana banana, Kentucky banana, Michigan banana, Ozark banana, and American custard apple. The pawpaw is the state fruit of Ohio. At Lake Snowden near Albany, Ohio an annual pawpaw festival is held each September.

The botanical name of the pawpaw is Asimina triloba. (The botanical name of the papaya is Carica papaya.)

Related articles:

How to Start an Herb Garden

Best Herbs for Container Growing

Herbs for Cool Season Growing

Growing Herbs for Cooking

Planning the Home Fruit Garden

Home Fruit Garden Maintenance

Garden Planning Books at Amazon:

More kitchen tips:

Bring your harvest to the table. Kitchen prep tips and easy recipes for the vegetables you grow. Click below for vegetable prep and recipes you can use now.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

How To Grow Tips

How To Grow Tomatoes

How To Grow Peppers

How To Grow Broccoli

How To Grow Carrots

How To Grow Beans

How To Grow Corn

How To Grow Peas

How To Grow Lettuce

How To Grow Cucumbers

How To Grow Zucchini and Summer Squash

How To Grow Onions

How To Grow Potatoes

Tomatoes frozen3

How to Freeze Ripe Tomatoes

Mint Spearmint1

Ways to Use Mint