Monday, October 31, 2016

Paw Paws in the house!

The fresh paw paws that I ordered online arrived a couple of weeks ago.  I ordered the paw paws from Integration Acres.  I was somewhat concerned how they could send fresh paw paws without them arriving in a pile of mush.  My worries were for naught because they arrived fresh and without damage.

The fruit was sent loosely wrapped in newspaper and placed in a box filled with packing peanuts.  Since paw paws have a short shelf life Integration Acres send paw paws of various stages of ripeness.  That gave me a week or more of fresh paw paws instead of having 2 pounds of fruit that needed to be eaten right away.

When the box arrived, I of course opened it right away and grabbed the first paw paw that my hand landed on.  I cut it in half lengthwise and cut out a section and ate it.  What I noticed first was the texture.  The flesh of the fruit is very custard like.  I think it feels a lot like mango but different.  The texture is smooth like a mango but soft like a ripe banana.

The next thing I noticed were the seeds.  Oh my goodness they are huge and I saved every one of them.  More on the seeds later.

The taste is smooth and you hardly have to chew it but I was underwhelmed by the taste.  In my haste to try a paw paw, I had grabbed one that wasn't completely ripe.  

So fast  forward to later in the evening.  After the unripe paw paw incident, I unwrapped all the paw paws and placed them in the fridge to get cold.  I waited until the fruit was cold and then picked the most ripe paw paw of the bunch and tried again.  So much better. 

How did I know which one was the ripest?  When they are ripe the fruit is softer and the skin gets darker.  Actually the skin gets ugly like an over ripe banana skin.  By the way, you only eat the flesh of the fruit, not the skin or the seeds.

I really can't described the taste.  It's different but good.  My sister thought it tasted like a mango.  I thought it tasted more like a banana.  

Confession...I forgot to take photos of the fruit.  Bad blogger.  Number 1 rule in blogging....take photos. I dropped the ball or in this case, I dropped the paw paw.

I love that paw paws have no known pests so they are not sprayed with chemicals.   They are also filled with wonderful nutrients.  Paw paws are high in vitamin C, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese.  There is also potassium, zinc, riboflavin, niacin, and calcium.  3.5 ounces of paw paw has 80 calories.

Get this!!!! Scientists believe there is something in paw paws that either cure cancer or prevent cancer.  There is ongoing research so lets keep our fingers crossed.

We saved all the seeds.  Integration Acres sent a flyer with instructions on how to save the seeds. First you rinse off the slime that surrounds the seed.  I used my fingernail and once you get down to the outside of the seed, the slime can then be rubbed off.  Don't worry about damaging the seed because these seeds are large and have a hard outer skin.  

Dry them off and then place in a plastic baggie filled with moist sand and place in the refrigerator (NOT THE FREEZER) for 90 days. I think this is to mimic winter conditions.  After 90 days you can pant your seeds in a container and they will germinate in 50 days.  The soil needs to be between 65 and 70 degrees.  Keep the soil moist and don't let it dry out.  I read another article that said not to leave the seeds drying for more than 3 days as it affect the germination probability.  
The trees are sold online and at some nurseries.  I bought two bare root paw paw trees a few years back and they did not survive.   They have a long tap root so I am going to make sure I plant the seeds in a deep pot.  I have a few 4 inch pots that are 8 inches deep which should work great.

We purchased two paw paw trees at a local nursery and I hope they do well.  The first winter is the most vulnerable here in Michigan.  Our winters can be warm (in the 20's and 30's) with a lot of freezing rain (not good), or very cold (-20's), or with lots and lots of snow (not good and lots of limb breakage), or very cold with lots of wind (not good either because it dries out the plant and wind breaks limbs).  So fingers crossed that these trees make it through their first winter here at Gear Acres.
 The trees have a tropical look with the droopy large leaves.  Different than all the other trees in my yard.
I plan on ordering some seeds off the Internet because I have read in several articles, that it is best to have several strains for cross pollination.  The fruit I purchased online came from Ohio so I will look for seeds from another state, preferably from a northern state so  I can be sure it is cold hardy.

I also read that the paw paw tree is the sole host for the zebra swallowtail butterfly.  My home is at the most northern part of their range and I cannot recalled ever seeing a zebra swallowtail. We have the eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly in my area. 
Eastern Tiger swallowtail butterfly

Long term storage of paw paw fruit is to freeze the fruit after it has been pureed or you can dry it.  I have a dehydrator so next year I am going to order more fruit and try to dry paw paw chips like dried banana chips.

I also ordered a jar of spiceberry and paw paw jam from Integration Acres.  Deeeelish.  It's not sweet but not sour.  I spread it on toast in the morning.  It is the perfect jam for those who like a little something on their toast but don't want to start their morning with something sweet.

If you are looking for something different to plant in your yard, think about trying a couple of paw paw trees.  No known pests, free healthy fruit, and distinctive leaves.  The trees can be planted in semi shade or full sun.

Let me know if you plant any and how they grew in your yard.
I will update in the spring on whether the paw paw trees made it through the winter.

For now I'll leave you with this little song called the Paw Paw Patch.

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