Farmers Markets / Farms / Produce

In Praise of the Pithy Pawpaw

If you’ve never heard of a paw paw, don’t feel bad. The little known hyperlocal fruit, native to North America, has such a very short season, you can blink and miss them. Adding insult to injury, it is facing possible extinction! Let’s explore and recognize this perky produce and learn where to find pawpaws right now. If you like this content, consider becoming a subscriber – link at the bottom! Thank you for your support!

What is a pawpaw?

The pawpaw is the Mid-Atlantic’s only indigenous tropical fruit with a short-lived season that runs from late August through September in Pennsylvania. Because of its fragility and short shelf life, it doesn’t travel well and is often only found at local farms and farm stands. 

The obscure orbs grow on small, shrubby trees and are yellow-green on the outside, pale gold-yellow on the inside, with thick black seeds. According to Nina Berryman of Weaver’s Way Co-Op, it has a creamy custard-like texture and tastes between a banana and a mango, with hints of vanilla and citrus. Think of it as a sweeter cousin to the Latin American soursop.

The pawpaw is a healthy food source packed with protein, vitamins, and nutrients, such as Vitamin C, copper, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and manganese. It’s also rich in riboflavin, thiamine, B-6, niacin, and folate.

Sadly, pawpaw season is becoming shorter and shorter due to climate change, putting the fickle fruit in danger of being wiped out. So, if you can find them, eat them!

Where to find pawpaws?

Most supermarkets will not carry pawpaws, but they can be found around the region at farm stands, independent markets, and, if you’re lucky, farmer’s markets, during peak season which is right now.

Weavers Way Co-Op

559 Carpenter Lane
Mt. Airy

Weavers Way Co-Op

8424 Germantown Ave.
Chestnut Hill

Weavers Way Co-Op

217 E. Butler Ave.
Ambler, PA

Riverwards Produce

2200 East Norris Street 
Fishtown

Kensington Community Food Co-Op

2670 Coral Street
Kensington

South Philly Food Co-Op

2031 S. Juniper Street
South Philly

Mariposa Food Co-Op

4824 Baltimore Avenue
West Philly

Robson’s Farm

33 Rahilly Road 
Wrightstown, NJ

Honey Brook Organic Farm

8 Elm Ridge Road
Pennington, NJ

Non-Commercial Sources:

I was also contacted by this gentleman named Michael Gross from Warrington, PA who grows and sells pawpaws on Facebook marketplace. Here is his listing.


How to eat pawpaws?

If you’re lucky enough to get your paws on some pawpaws, you can eat them as is or use them in pies, puddings, ice cream, or sorbet. Here are some fun recipes by Weaver’s Way Executive Chef Bonnie Shuman.

Pennsylvania PawPaw Salsa

Ingredients:

3 fresh ripe pawpaws

½ red onion chopped, about 1/2 cup

1 jalapeño pepper minced fine

5 tabasco peppers OR 1 large red-hot pepper

1 clove garlic minced 

1 cup seeded and diced tomato 

¼ tsp salt 

juice of one lime

minced cilantro to taste

Method:

  • Peel, deseed, and cube pawpaws
  • Add remaining ingredients in a mixing bowl and cover with saran wrap
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, allowing flavors to meld
  • Divide evenly among four plates and serve atop grilled chicken breasts or swordfish steaks
  • Enjoy!

Pennsylvania PawPaw Milkshake

Ingredients:

2 cups pawpaw pulp

1 cup cold milk

4 scoops vanilla bean ice cream

Method:

  • Combine ingredients in a blender and blend on high until smooth and frothy
  • Pour into a frosty glass
  • Serve and enjoy!

Know somewhere to get pawpaws? Let me know, and I’ll add it to the list.

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