If you were to set me loose in a forest and told me that I had to feed myself I wouldn’t know where to begin. Fortunately, Native Americans and early settlers were familiar with a unique fruit called the pawpaw which was an important food source in the late summer.
The pawpaw is the only temperate member of the tropical custard apple family not found in the tropics and it grows wild in 26 states in the U.S, from Louisiana to Ontario, Canada (I know – not a U.S. state) and from the Atlantic to as far west as Nebraska. It’s the largest edible fruit tree native to North America. They are quite hardy in snow and icy conditions and grow to about twelve feet with a slim tree trunk and branches with long, green leaves. The trees produce greenish/black fruit that ranges from three to six inches long.
So what’s all the fuss about? It’s got an amazing taste some describe as vanilla, banana, mango or even avocado. And… it gets better. It’s good for you too! It has high levels of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It’s similar in fat content to an avocado.
And if you’re in the business of name calling – the pawpaw has been variously named a Hoosier banana, Indian banana, custard apple or a Quaker delight.