Monday, October 4, 2010
One of the great things about fall is all that there is to do in the outdoors. During September and October, I enjoy bowhunting for deer and float fishing for river smallmouths, but I also relish gathering wild fruits, especially paw paws. On a recent Saturday afternoon before the bow season began, I went to a Botetourt County, Virginia farm where I have permission to hunt. After I finished putting up my tree stand, I walked to a small grove of paw paws that lies on the shaded side of a mountain.
There on the forest floor were dozens of paw paws, some black and covered with ants, some green and unripe, but many were light brown and perfect for eating and gathering. I ate the first three fruits that I found - I was a bit of a glutton for sure as I love the taste, something between that of a banana and custard.
I then proceeded to gather some three dozen paw paws, filling my hat and pockets with the delectable bounty. That evening, my wife Elaine made two loaves of Paw Paw Bread and froze the rest of the pulp for winter. Some January day when it is snowing, Elaine will bake Paw Paw Cookies.
Elaine's recipe for Paw Paw Bread is as follows.
First you will need to prepare 2 cups of pawpaw pulp. To do this, cut the pawpaws open. Remove the seeds and scrape the pulp into a bowl. Try to get as much pulp as you can from the seeds by scraping them with a knife, but that is hard work. Each fruit has about 5-7 seeds a bit larger than a pumpkin seed. If you can't remove the pulp from the seeds, just enjoy sucking the pulp from the seeds as you work. I found that a serated grapefruit spoon was somewhat helpful to remove the pulp from the skin, as was just using my hands while wearing disposable gloves.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease two 9x4x2-inch loaf pans.
1 cup melted butter
2 cups sugar
2 cups prepared pawpaw pulp
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1-2 tsp. lemon zest
4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
nuts of your choice, optional
Beat together the butter, sugar, and eggs. Add and beat in the pawpaw pulp, lemon juice, and zest. Sift the flour and baking powder together, and stir them into the batter. Add nuts if desired. We especially like wild black walnut and shagbark and mockernut hickory nuts. Scrape the batter into the loaf pans, and bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Check carefully the last 5-10 minutes just in case the bread begins to brown too much.