5 Tasty Ways to Eat This Popular Exotic Fruit

pawpawsEver tasted a pawpaw? Don't feel like you're out of the culinary loop if you answered "no" to that question. There are plenty of people who've never even heard of a pawpaw, and we're not talking about the Australian word for papaya.

Pawpaws are like a tropical fruit, except they don't grow in the tropics, they grow right here in America. And not in California or Florida either, which were probably your first guesses. Pawpaws grow in the eastern U.S., across some 25 states. It's said to taste like a cross between a banana, a mango, and a melon. Which sounds amazing, right? So why haven't you heard of this mouthwatering treat, anyway?

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Well, pawpaws have traditionally had a very short shelf life, so stores never carry them. They're pretty much the pull 'em off the tree and eat immediately type of fruit. Except thanks to plant scientist Neal Peterson, who's spent 35 years breeding a more shelf-stable pawpaw, that's finally starting to change.

So what will you do with your pawpaws once you get your paws on them? (HA!) We have a few ideas ...

  1. Slice a nice fresh one in half and eat the flesh with a spoon, spitting out the larger seeds (less messy than trying to peel it like a banana).
  2. Try it in recipes that don't require heat -- heating pawpaws can destroy the flavor. So think smoothies, sorbet, ice cream ... yum.
  3. Test a pawpaw for ripeness the same way you test a mango: Skin should be turning yellow, not too green, and soft enough to yield to touch. If you do have green pawpaws, though, you can eat them like a vegetable. Perfect in a salad!
  4. Even though we said not to heat pawpaws, they do work quite well as a replacement for bananas in your favorite bread and muffin recipes.
  5. Make a pawpaw lassi by combing ripe pawpaw, milk, yogurt, a touch of honey, and the juice of one orange in a blender. Mmmm.

Have you ever tried a pawpaw?

 

Image via Sarahemcc/Flickr

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