The search for the next tropical flavor is leading consumers to an unexpected place and, in some cases, their own backyards. Known to some as the “Prairie Banana” the Pawpaw fruit is the largest edible fruit native to North America, and can be found almost anywhere, yet favors the Northeast and Midwest regions. This large green fruit with bright yellow flesh falls to the ground when ripe and is finding itself in the spotlight with recent press uncovering the once obscure crop.
With a complex, yet balanced taste profile that some refer to as mango, apple, tangerine and even cotton candy, the custard-like texture makes the search worthwhile. These fruits are commonly eaten plain when ripe or used in baking, spreads and even as an ingredient in craft beers, thanks to its bright banana flavors that have a yeasty finish. One of the several festivals honoring the crop includes the Ohio Pawpaw Festival, with events that include growing contests, eating competitions and discussion panels held by growers and fans alike.
Perhaps adding to the allure of the pawpaw is its incredible delicate shelf-life, making finding the fruit difficult in commercial stores and markets. For many enthusiasts, the hunt is part of the appeal and having to track down trees or vendors selling the crop.
When foraging for these tropical surprises, it is recommended to pluck them almost ripe from the tree, rather than those already on the ground, giving the picker ample time to devise of how the fruit will be utilized. No matter how you choose to eat one, if you’re able to enjoy a pawpaw in season, consider yourself lucky!
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This article is courtesy of our insights partners at CultureWaves.