The Pawpaw: An All-American Fruit Nobody Knows About


An Idaho Pawpaw

I only recently stumbled across pawpaws. They sat in a basket one fall day like malformed mangoes, all frog-green and unfamiliar. I’d heard the name, but couldn’t remember where. Nor did I know these natives of the Eastern United States have a taste as close to the tropics as you’ll find in temperate climes. (The pawpaw is the only member of the Annonaceae family that grows much beyond the Equator.)

According to an article on The Atlantic magazine’s food site, I share my pawpaw ignorance with others:

“...Despite its long history, very few people in the U.S. have eaten it. Like a lot of the old fruits, the amount of work required to grow 'em versus the yield in picked, ripe pawpaws isn’t all that great. It doesn’t ship well, and shelf life is short so you can’t keep it in the cooler indefinitely.”

Luckily, an affable Idaho home gardener ignored the pawpaw’s downside. He planted and grows a flourishing little orchard behind his Meridian home. In the coming BW on Wednesday, Oct. 12, I take a tour of that mini-pawpaw forest and find out where you too can get a taste of a nearly forgotten, if all-American fruit that George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Meriwether Lewis and William Clark all reportedly loved.