What is a Paw Paw

A Tropical Treat- The Paw Paw

Have you ever heard of a paw paw? No, I’m not talking about papaya, but rather a delicious tropical-like fruit that is native to North America. The pawpaw, also known as the “Indiana banana” or “custard apple,” is a hidden gem in the world of fruits, with a unique flavor and creamy texture that is sure to tantalize your taste buds.

Paw paws grow on trees that are part of the Annonaceae family, and are commonly found in the eastern United States, particularly in states such as Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana- but also grow well in Michigan. These trees can reach heights of up to 30 feet but are more regularly found to grow between 15 and 20 feet tall. They produce large, oblong, mango shaped fruits that are typically green when unripe and turn yellow or brown when ripe.

Paw paw fruit

Tastes Like the Tropics

So, what exactly does a pawpaw taste like? Imagine a combination of mango, banana, and pineapple, with a hint of vanilla. The flavor is sweet and tropical, with a creamy texture that is often compared to a ripe avocado, a custard consistency. When ripe, the flesh of the pawpaw is soft and easily scooped out with a spoon, making it a perfect snack for on-the-go- just be sure not to eat the skin or seeds. How cool is that? You can have a taste of the tropic right in your backyard!

Paw Paw Health Benefits

Paw paws are not only delicious, but they are also highly nutritious. Here are some reasons why you should consider adding pawpaws to your diet:

  1. Rich in Nutrients: Pawpaws are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C, potassium, and magnesium. These nutrients are important for maintaining overall health and well-being.
  2. Antioxidant Properties: Pawpaws are rich in antioxidants, which help protect your cells from damage caused by free radicals. This can help reduce inflammation, boost your immune system, and lower your risk of chronic diseases.
  3. Digestive Health: The high fiber content in pawpaws can promote healthy digestion and prevent constipation. Fiber also helps maintain a healthy gut microbiome, which is important for overall digestive health.
  4. Heart Health: Potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants in pawpaws can help support heart health by regulating blood pressure, reducing inflammation, and improving circulation.

Overall, incorporating pawpaws into your diet can be a tasty and nutritious way to support your overall health and well-being.

How to Eat Paw Paws

There are many ways to enjoy pawpaw fruit, one of the best ways to enjoy a pawpaw is to eat it fresh. Simply cut the fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon. You can also add it to smoothies, salads, or desserts for a tropical twist. Pawpaws can also be used in baking, with popular recipes including pawpaw bread, pawpaw pie, and pawpaw ice cream.

Paw paw fruit tree

Paw Paw History

In addition to their delicious flavor, pawpaws are also an important part of American history. Native Americans have been enjoying pawpaws for centuries, using them for both food and medicine. Lewis and Clark even mentioned pawpaws in their journals during their expedition in the early 1800s. paw paw was also the favorite fruit of George Washington.

Try a Paw Paw

Despite their rich history and unique flavor, pawpaws are not as well-known as other tropical tasting fruits such as mangoes or pineapples. This is due to their short shelf life and delicate nature, which makes them difficult to transport and store. However, if you have the opportunity to try a pawpaw, we highly recommend giving it a try. You won’t be disappointed by the deliciously sweet and creamy taste of this tropical delight.

Not sure where to find a paw paw to taste? If you are local to the Mid-Michigan area, check out the Owosso Farmers Market, they have a vendor, Perry Permaculture, who has a limited amount of fresh fruit each fall.

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