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Way Down Yonder In The Paw Paw Patch


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Today, for the first time, I was able to find ripe paw paws - by foraging in the forest. Has anyone ever seem them available commerically... anywhere?

They are, by the way, tasty - like a custardy banana with that terpene-like tang that underripe mangoes get. And yes, I will be planting the seeds.

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Today, for the first time, I was able to find ripe paw paws - by foraging in the forest.  Has anyone ever seem them available commerically... anywhere?

They are, by the way, tasty - like a custardy banana with that terpene-like tang that underripe mangoes get.  And yes, I will be planting the seeds.

They had them at the DuPont Market last year.

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yes, i found them for a couple of weeks last autumn at the dupont farmers market. the first week they were great, custardy definitely. the second week, not so good, maybe because they are more perishable than you would expect. i would love to try cooking with them, but am unsure of what would work and would be hesitant in substituting them for banana.

several years ago, hiking along the c+o canal above white's ferry, we found them growing in profusion, and black racers slumbering in the sun.

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Where do you find them in the wild and what do they look like?  I've this fascination with gathering things in the wild but knowing my luck I'd eat something that I wasn't supposed to!

they look like small bananas, a bit rounder. here's a picture i quickly found on the net:

http://www.gwf.org/pawpaw.htm

i know they grow along the upper potomac on the maryland side. ask a c+o ranger at great falls?

there is quite a bit of literature available on "edible" wild plants at the library, books stores, the net etc.

Edited by giant shrimp
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They had them at the DuPont Market last year.

Neal Peterson, the local pawpaw grower who used to come to Dupont for a few weekends a year, when he had ripe fruit to sell, has apparently gone out of the fruit business and is now selling seedling trees. See this article for more information about commercially available pawpaws:

http://www.post-gazette.com/food/20030918pawpaw0918fnp2.asp

As far as finding them in the wild, they are an indigenous native plant and can be found throughout the mid-Atlantic. They are common along the C&O Canal towpath--however I haven't seen many trees with fruit hanging. The leaves are dark green, shiny and an elongated oval in shape. There is a butterfly, the Zebra Swallowtail, which is dependent completely on pawpaw trees--if you ever see a large black-and-white striped butterfly, look around-- there will be pawpaw trees nearby.

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Where do you find them in the wild and what do they look like?  I've this fascination with gathering things in the wild but knowing my luck I'd eat something that I wasn't supposed to!

Check out: http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/ppf/about.htm

It helps to be taking slow nature hike with six year old boy. :lol: I just noticed a stand of the trees and started looking around for the fallen fruit while the boy tried to catch a toad. Sheer dumb luck, really. But the trees are quite distinctive, with obovate leaves up to one foot long; once you recognize them, they're easy to spot.

Thanks for the other tips, folks!

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Riverbend Park on the VA side of the Potomac. Park by the visitor center and walk upstream on the trail closest to the river. They are shiny green and sort of potato shaped. You may need to use a stick to knock some down.

Honestly, I did not like them all that much, and will leave them for the raccoons in the future.

Wild persimmons, now, that's another story!

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Please do tell!

I used to hunt wild persimmons on the W&OD bike path, just west of the Dulles Toll Road.

Until I noticed a wild persimmon tree right in the middle of Fairfax City.

They are very small, and the seeds are huge, but the fruit is very nice. This particular tree is quite tall, so there's no way to pick them, you have to pick up the ones that have fallen. And they're no good until after the first frost, but then they're very soft, and tend to split when they fall.

Short window of opportunity.

Wish I knew how to clone/graft a tree, this one seems worth replicating.

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One of the venders at the Dupont Circle Farmers' Market was selling pawpaws last Sunday. It was the guy near Mass Ave. who sells blueberry scones every week, and has lots of preserves for sale. I didn't ask about the price--my family doesn't like pawpaws--but I rarely buy anything from him because I find his prices too high. I used to buy eggs from him when he was bringing blue Aracuna eggs, but he doesn't bring them anymore. The pawpaw season is very short, but last week was the first time he had them, so they may well be back this coming weekend.

Edited by zoramargolis
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One of the venders at the Dupont Circle Farmers' Market was selling pawpaws last Sunday. <snip> The pawpaw season is very short, but last week was the first time he had them, so they may well be back this coming weekend.

Okay, weekend planned: Lankford Farm Saturday, Dupont market Sunday. Thanks for the tip!

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It's that time of year again. Any leads?

You missed the opportunity this past Sunday when Eric of Country Pleasures (MD) was selling them at Dupont Circle. Hates them personally, but also hates bananas which he says their texture resembles to some degree.

Not sure if it was a one-time thing; he brought them for someone in particular who loves that the fruit is indigenous.

Anyone else?

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You missed the opportunity this past Sunday when Eric of Country Pleasures (MD) was selling them at Dupont Circle. Hates them personally, but also hates bananas which he says their texture resembles to some degree.

Not sure if it was a one-time thing; he brought them for someone in particular who loves that the fruit is indigenous.

Anyone else?

Gosh, i wish i'd known that as i love them. i think it's so neat that there's something so like a custard apple that's not only indigenous, it can grow in non-tropical areas (up to zone 5 maybe?) i also think they're supposed to be high in protein or something. hopefully he'll bring more this week or next!

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Could someone post a picture of the fruit you're talking about? The links above appear all to be broken, and the fruit that I call a "paw paw" is I'm sure an entirely different beast (well, it's a papaya).

They look like smooth green potatoes. In my opinion, the taste is "meh." If you were living on what you could forage in the woods, they'd be a welcome addition.

Wild persimmons, on the other hand, I would gladly pay for or steal off your tree if you weren't looking. :(

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Look, feel free to delete this...

Was just reading the Ashby Inn thread and saw Paw Paw mentioned.

I've never had it, but it just recently came to my attention thanks to Mr. Rowley and his Whiskey Forge:

http://matthew-rowley.blogspot.com/2011/12/ive-never-eaten-paw-paw.html

I can't say whether or not I want to eat it more or less now, but there you go. I had to share. I couldn't NOT share. It's not in my DNA.

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^Indulging my inner pedant in defense of a favorite native: although paw paw flowers supposedly stink, they don't stink like Mr. Rowley et. al. claim. I think that's the odor of a noxious invasive, Paulownia tomentosa (princess tree) that blooms at about the same time. More importantly, paw paw fruits certainly don't taste like that. They taste rather bland and custardy, like cherimoya. There's a pick-your-own farm off of Rt 7 east of Winchester that sells them (already picked) (they usually ripen in mid-September, iirc). There's also a thread about paw paw here somewhere...

eta: I'm getting old. Not paulownia: Ailanthus altissima, or tree-of-heaven. That's the one that smells like - you know.

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Well, Rowley did not say pawpaws smell bad, he said he had heard the tree smells like jizz, aka semen. And I have to agree that the fruit does not smell that way to me (or taste) but also that I did not think the trees smelled like that, either, when I was foraging for the fruit, in the fall. But maybe the flowers do, in the spring, I have no idea.

I planted a couple of pawpaw trees in my back yard a couple of years ago, but they're way in the back, and I have never visited them in the spring. Now I am curious.

I do like that blog, new to me. So many blogs, so little time.

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I have 5 Peterson pawpaws planted- 2 of them have been decimated by my dogs, chewed back to the main trunk, but sprouting from the base-unfortunately, since they're grafted, whatever sprouts will be from the rootstock. Mine have only flowered, no fruit yet, but I didn't notice any unusual odor from the flowers- they're quite beautiful, small & purple-brown...

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I've been meaning to plant some peterson pawpaws for years but haven't gotten around to it yet. (maybe this will be the year!) i'm curious about how hard it is to get fruit though--how long have you had your trees? and did you try hand pollinating them? i remember back when i started researching planting them, a couple people reccomended hand pollinating....

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I think my trees are 4 years old, still small, under 3'. I know I had to get on a waiting list for about a year, I don't think Mr. Peterson ships anymore, he's licensed his crosses to a couple of other nurseries. I didn't try hand-pollinating, I was just thrilled to get some flowers...they're cute trees, kind of tropicalesque, almost a natural espalier (they grow flat)-I am really not describing this well...

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your email is very helpful, thanks! although hearing about the 4 year+ wait to bear fruit is a bit dissapointing...

Oh, it gets worse. I planted mine at least ten years ago and they are about ten feet tall and have never had fruit. I have them way in the back under some dense oaks, maples and sweet gum but they are understory trees in the wild so I think they are well situated. The soil is usually moist and that's what they like, I believe. I think they just grow slowly and produce late in life.

I got them from Edible Landscaping but otherwise cannot recall the provenance, would have to dig through a pile of invoices and what-not to reconstruct, which I could do if I were motivated but am not. I believe they were/are Peterson pawpaws.

Because when I finally foraged for wild pawpaws on the banks of the Potomac I was underwhelmed, to put it bluntly.

Do yourself a favor, find the fruit at a farmer's market or forage for it, before you plant them. I don't really mind giving them the space, when they finally do fruit, I am sure that the raccoons will love them, but I won't.

As far as I am concerned, it's one of those romantic ideas that just don't work out in real life.

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Oh, it gets worse. I planted mine at least ten years ago and they are about ten feet tall and have never had fruit.

It's possible that you have only male trees. Also, you need two different cultivars for fruiting. (And as an aside, pawpaw is the northernmost-growing plant in its family, which is otherwise mostly tropical and subtropial.) Some good info: http://www.pawpaw.kysu.edu/GrowingInformation1.htm

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This summer has been rough, I still have 4 tiny pawpaws, but I don't expect fruit any time soon. My pineapple guavas (feijoa) look a bit healthier, but they won't fruit either, & I have a loquat, which is a lovely tree, but no fruit, this far north.. The fig trees are the ones that produce the most, but I'm not crazy about figs, & I'm thinking about how to preserve them...

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Yes, Farm at Sunnyside had paw-paws at Dupont Circle a couple of weeks ago, but I only noticed them that one time.

Of course, I feel about paw-paws the same way Waitman feels about cantaloupe.

Country Pleasures--the other organic farm out on 20th Street, next to the orchard with the sign asking you not to whine--usually brings paw-paws to market a little later than Farm at Sunnyside.

José Andres had yet a different source when his America Eats was open, someone who was able to sell in quantities. An interest in their historical significance/geographic origins is about the only thing that makes sense to me when it comes to the fruit.

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...The fig trees are the ones that produce the most, but I'm not crazy about figs, & I'm thinking about how to preserve them...

Dry them, then make a fig cake. Or a bunch of fig cakes. I had one for the first time in Borough Market a few months ago, and they are really good. The one I bought was from a Croatian vendor, and it was spiced so it tasted like Christmas. Different and delicious.

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Hi. Does anyone know if anyone at any of the area farmers' markets will be selling pawpaws this year? thanks!

A vendor at the Takoma Park farmers market had them last Sunday. I forget the name of the vendor (wasn't Toigo but another vendor with fruit, etc).

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The fig trees are the ones that produce the most, but I'm not crazy about figs, & I'm thinking about how to preserve them...

I find that roasting figs, drizzled with a little honey and lemon juice turns them into a lovely compote that is excellent with pork. I also make a roasted fennel and fig slaw, also with honey and lemon, that makes an interesting vegetable side dish.

I've been making fig preserves this year, macerating the figs for a few hours with sugar, orange and lemon juice, orange and lemon peel. then adding a bay leaf, and anise seed in a cloth sachet, bringing to a boil and simmering for a half hour or so and letting it sit overnight. the next day, I take out the bay leaf and anise seed sachet, reduce it down a little, add some pectin and then process. if you don't have anise seed, you could add some Pernod near the end of the saga. I find that a little hint of anise flavor sends fig preserves into hyper-deliciousness.

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Country Pleasures--the other organic farm out on 20th Street, next to the orchard with the sign asking you not to whine--usually brings paw-paws to market a little later than Farm at Sunnyside.

This morning, this farm did in fact have the fruit. I did a quick search to explore what other fruits share its status as indigenous to North America and came across a thread from a science forum that might be of interest: "Native North American Fruit". (What amuses me is the kind of interpersonal dynamic one finds all across the board.)

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Drat! i overslept yesterday and didnt make it to the market. i'll really try to make it next week though. thanks for all the tips everyone!

Anna, do you like cherimoya and custard apples? if so, maybe you just havent had good pawpaws, because it's a close relative and to me the taste is very similar, with the bonus of a better pulp-to-seed ratio. i also just think it's neat to have such a tropical tasting fruit that's native to the us and hardy to zone 5 (so it'll grow in chicago, etc).

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Anna, do you like cherimoya and custard apples? if so, maybe you just havent had good pawpaws, because it's a close relative and to me the taste is very similar, with the bonus of a better pulp-to-seed ratio. i also just think it's neat to have such a tropical tasting fruit that's native to the us and hardy to zone 5 (so it'll grow in chicago, etc).

Love mangos, could live happy without papayas for the rest of a venerable, long life. Soft bananas go immediately to freezer. It's a texture thing. Ut oh. Blinking lights...

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Hi Everyone,

I know that Paw Paws have been in the news a lot lately because we are in the mdidle of the very short paw paw season.  People have been calling me and I can finally say that Yes, we have paw paws again.  At Mountain View at the 14&U Farmers Market at 14th and U NW.  Come early because the 25 pounds they foraged last week went fast. I think they will have more this week.  In case you have not tried them -- they look like a dirty mango and they taste like a mango that married a banana custard.  Bit of vanilla there too.  People make ice cream, custards, pancakes and even season beer with paw paws.  They are the only member of the tropical fruit family that grows in the Eastern US (north of Florida).

Robin

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Son of a gun.  Back in my canoeing days I canoed and camped out by the Paw Paw bend on the Potomac.  I had no idea it was a tropical fruit.   :D

I don't think it is tropical; they grow here in a temperate zone.

But they are irreversibly special to me - not because they're so delicious (I didn't know what they were either until just a few years ago), but because my mom used to sing my son to sleep by carrying him around and singing this song:

"Where oh where is little Matt?"

"Where oh where is little Matt?"

"Where oh where is little Matt?"

"Way down yonder in the paw paw patch."

"Picking up paw paws, putting 'em in a basket."

"Picking up paw paws, putting 'em in a basket."

"Picking up paw paws, putting 'em in a basket."

"Way down yonder in the paw paw patch."

Okay, she got the lyrics sort of wrong, and the melody was probably off too, but nobody cared - she was a really special grandmother, and completely devoted to my dad, her children, and her grandchildren. I have never seen such a giving person in all my years.

I miss them both. :(

But I'm lucky to have had them. :) :) :)

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There's a small farm out near Lovettsville that has pick-your-own pawpaws. I got two pecks for ten bucks yesterday. The season isn't quite done yet, so they'll likely be open next Saturday morning as well.  For more information send email to the owner at wwnursery@aol.com. (This is not a big commercial operation that you can just pop into - you need to contact them first.)

If you do go, consider having brunch at Market Table Bistro afterwards.

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Just in case anyone is wondering what to do with pawpaws other than eat them out of hand, I can report that they're good with yogurt. I have some pulp frozen for smoothies sometime in the future. They make a great substitute for bananas in old-fashioned banana pudding (simple cornstarch vanilla pudding, pawpaw pulp, and Nilla wafers). They make a wonderful ice cream. And, mace makes a nice complement to pawpaw, though a little goes a long way.

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31 minutes ago, sandynva said:

any pawpaw sightings at local markets yet this year? also, if anyone has tried growing them and has tips about where to purchase trees, varieties that did or did not do well, etc, i'd love to hear them

Paw Paw Festival at Meadowview Nature Center

Saturday, September 7 , 2019 | 12-4 pm | Fee $5

Meadowside Nature Center will celebrate this delightful native fruit with music, crafts, games, expert advice on pawpaw cultivation, and most importantly a pawpaw tasting station. We’ll have pawpaw fruit and trees for purchase!

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Well as our in laws moved into their new house, their paw paw tree at the old house, just started producing.  So they got to try their first paw paw.  

On 8/29/2019 at 10:39 AM, sandynva said:

any pawpaw sightings at local markets yet this year? also, if anyone has tried growing them and has tips about where to purchase trees, varieties that did or did not do well, etc, i'd love to hear them

Mount Vernon sells the trees at their Spring Plant Sale every year. I think they take about three years to fruit, you should really buy two so you can pollinate, if you don't have a lot of pollinators, you can self-pollinate, but don't go too crazy because you can overload the tree with too much fruit.

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