Monday, September 16, 2013

The Next Great American Fruit?

I think I missed something in the world of farmers markets here in the Binghamton area of upstate New York.

In our Sunday newspaper, there's a list called "Eat Local, Eat Well" provided by a local farmer.  "Here's a look at the fresh produce available this week at Broome County farmers markets", it promises.

Grapes - check.   I bought a bunch of local grapes-Concords - yesterday, which I will blog about in the near future.

Nectarines - check.



Cue memories of Northwest Arkansas, circa early 1980's.
This is a pawpaw tree, planted in downtown Fayetteville, Arkansas.  When I lived in Arkansas, 27 years ago, these small native trees grew wild.  Foragers knew that these trees produced a fruit unlike anything that you could buy in the store. They fall from the tree when ripe, so you never get an underripe fruit.  They have an intense smell (they can't be mistaken for anything poisonous) and tasted, to me, like a banana on steroids. (Many describe the taste as a cross between a mango and a banana but back then, I had never tasted a mango.)  I didn't like the taste, but my spouse did.

They are also highly perishable.  They bruise easily, so they will need to be grown locally.  They have large seeds.  And, not that it matters to me, they are - well, ugly.

But a lot can happen in 27 years, and, apparently, a lot of work has been done on breeding these trees.  Pawpaws are now cultivated and available in a limited number of farmers markets.

One interesting thing about the pawpaw is that they are not pollinated by bees.  They are pollinated by beetles or flies.  And, they are hardy in our zone, unlike bananas or mangoes.

I'm now wondering which farmers market in our county has them.  I'd like to check these cultivated pawpaws out.

If I like them better than the wild ones (or if my palate has changed in 27 years, which is quite possible), I have a West Virginian by the name of Neal Peterson to thank for being able to purchase them.

Some think they may be the next great "American fruit". Well, why not?

Have you eaten pawpaws?


  1. They may be hardy to zone 5 but they need 150 frost free days and a long, warm summer, according the website you linked to. That's 5 months without frost, which maybe you have in your location but I sure don't have it in mine.

  2. Wow! A new fruit to enjoy! Sounds like a worthy goal, to find some!


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