Thursday, July 05, 2012

Foraging for pawpaws and easy pickins'




Every summer, I remember my grandmother singing a folk song to my sister and me as she baked homemade cornbread and cooked grits, as we gathered around her homespun apron in her Carolina farmhouse.

It goes something like.. "Picking up paw paws puttin in your pocket... way down yonder in the paw paw patch..."  We sang with gusto but never actually tasted a paw paw!

Today, this indigenous fruit (and a favorite of Thomas Jefferson) is making a slow but steady comeback. It's rich in antioxidants and other nutrients and can be used in multiple recipes.

The pawpaw (Asiminia triloba) fruit has a tropical flavor that resembles a mix of banana, mango and pineapple (depending on your discriminating palette) with a creamy, custard-like texture similar to an avocado and a thickish skin. 

For those intrepid foragers, wild paw paws are smaller than the new cultivated varieties. You probably won't find them at grocery stores (yet) and may have to wait for these seasonal fruit to appear at select farmers markets, generally in September.

Thanks to Kentucky State University, pawpaw research is under way for developing orchard management, conducting regional trials, and improving propagation methods.

For those who prefer to forage in their own backyard, berries and small fruit trees are the ticket. From blueberries and raspberries to small citrus trees in containers, new cultivars are making it easier for all of us to enjoy fruit and berries (and pawpaws) too!

Just wish I knew all the words to that paw paw song...

Lynne
Garden Media Group
Photo credit: Dr. Kirk Pomper, Kentucky State University
Tigersandstrawberries.com

3 comments:

Susan McCoy said...

This is so you, Lynne! Another side of you, for sure!

Sarah DePass said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0P-xESpk7Q0

Not only do you get the gist of the lyrics, you get to adore that children are still singing that song to this day. :)

Sacred Habitats said...

PawPaw Patch Song
Where oh where is dear little Nellie?
Where oh where is dear little Nellie?
Where oh where is dear little Nellie?
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
Come on, kids, let’s go find her
Come on, kids, let’s go find her
Come on, kids, let’s go find her
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch

Where oh where is dear little Katie?
Where oh where is dear little Katie?
Where oh where is dear little Katie?
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
Come on, kids, let’s go find her
Come on, kids, let’s go find her
Come on, kids, let’s go find her
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in you pocket
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch

Where oh where is dear little David?
Where oh where is dear little David?
Where oh where is dear little David?
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
Come on, kids, let’s go find him
Come on, kids, let’s go find him
Come on, kids, let’s go find him
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch
Pickin’ up paw paws,
Put ‘em in your pocket
Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.