Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
from the Pawpaw Foundation

Pawpaws in the Kitchen

Quality: Quality pawpaws compare favorable to the best pears, peaches, and mangos of the world. The can vary considerable in size, depending on the cultivar and on the number of seeds in the fruit, but should ordinarily weight between five ounces and one pound (150-450 grams). They should appear plump and round in shape -- the largest, plumpest pawpaws often resemble mangos. The flesh should be neither too soft nor too firm. It should have a custardy texture that is smooth, melting, and luscious. The portion of the fruit occupied by seed should be small, less than 5 of the total fruit weight. Finally, the flavor of the fruit should be sweet, fragrant, complex. with a satisfying and lingering aftertaste.

Ripeness: The main methods of gauging pawpaw ripeness are through smell and feel. Ripe pawpaws have a pronounced aroma that can fill an entire room (the way cantaloupe does) with a fragrance that is both fruity and floral. When ripe, they are soft, and yield easily to a gentle squeeze like a ripe avocado or peach. Visual clues of ripeness are somewhat subtle: the skin turns a lighter shade of green and may show some yellow. In the late stages of ripeness, the skin develops brown blotches, streaks, and freckles like a banana. Inside a ripe pawpaw, the flesh will be yellow, soft and mellow, resembling custard.

Storage: Pawpaw fruits are very perishable. They respire more than apples or peaches or bananas, and in the process of respiration, they can evolve quite a bit of moisture, heat, carbon dioxide, and ethylene (the fruit-ripening hormone). When perfectly ripe, pawpaws will last for about only two days at room temperature. Refrigerated at 40-45 degrees F (4-8 degrees C)., the same fruits may last a week. If the fruits are not quite ripe, they may be refrigerated for about two weeks and then ripened at room temperature for several days. Storing pawpaws at less than 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) is not recommended since it often changes the flavor, producing caramel-like notes.

Uses: The primary use of pawpaw is for fresh eating. The easiest way is to cut them in two and scoop out the flesh with a spoon; the large seeds, scattered throughout the flesh are then simply spit out. On a hike or a picnic, you can tear an opening into one end and squeeze the flesh out into your mouth. In cooking, the pawpaw is best suited to recipes that require little or no heat, as the pawpaw's flavor compounds are very volatile; prolonged heating or high temperatures destroy their characteristic flavor. Pawpaw works well in ice cream, sorbet, chiffon pie and mousse, and combines well with mint. On account of its flavor resemblance to banana, it may be substituted in recipes such as banana nut bread.

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Pawpaw Foundation. "Pawpaws in the Kitchen." Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council. Jan. 1995. Page 14. Web. 2 Mar. 2017.

Published 2 Mar. 2017 LR
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