Hocking Hills Pawpaws and Pawpaw Recipes

I recently received a copy of the September/October Midwest Living magazine and discovered an article on pawpaws.  I had some vague idea that a pawpaw is a fruit and think I may have seen some along a trail once years ago while vacationing at one of the Ohio state park resorts.  Other than that I recall part of the childhood song about picking up pawpaws and putting them in a basket.  That was the extent of my knowledge until I ran across this article.

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According to the article, In Search of the Midwest Mango, by Amanda Glazebrook, the Hocking Hills region is one of the very best pawpaw growing regions in the U.S. and late September is when the fruit attains its peak ripeness.  I also learned that Albany holds a Pawpaw festival in mid-September, Jackie O’s pub in Athens brews and serves a Bourbon Barrel Paw Paw Wheat, the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls has a seasonal pawpaw facial, and several local restaurants incorporate the pawpaw fruit into its dishes.

I decided to find out some more about these little known fruits.  According to the Kentucky State University Land Grant Program website, pawpaw trees are found in the understory of hardwood forests.  They have few predators but are difficult to pollinate and won’t pollinate themselves.   They have a creamy, custard-like flesh and taste like banana combined with mango, pineapple, or melon.   Many pawpaw lovers say the best way to enjoy pawpaws is to eat them raw, just picked from the tree, when they are perfectly ripe.  Pawpaws are nutritious and high in antioxidants.

Pawpaw-fruit

My family bought a cabin in Hocking County a short time ago and I wonder if somewhere on our four acres there might exist some pawpaw trees.  It would be interesting to explore and see if we could find any.   If located these are a few of the recipes that I would like to try:

Pawpaw Ice Cream

  • 2 cups pawpaw puree, thawed if frozen
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup sugar

Place the pawpaw puree in a bowl and set aside. In a heavy saucepan, stir together the cream, milk and sugar. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Slowly pour the cream mixture into the pawpaw puree, whisking to blend. Cover with plastic wrap and completely chill in the refrigerator. Pour the cold mixture into an ice cream maker and process according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

Pawpaw Preserves

  • 12 pawpaws (about 5 lbs)
  • 2 c. water
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 orange

Peel pawpaws. Put in kettle with water, without removing seeds. Boil until soft, then put through a sieve. Add sugar and juice of orange and lemon. Boil until thick. Grated rind of orange or lemon may be added. Put in sterilized jars and seal.

Pawpaw Pie

  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1 c. milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1½ c. pawpaw pulp (peeled and seeded)

Place all ingredients into stew pan and stir together. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Pour into unbaked pie shell and bake until the crust is done.