October 11, 2009

The Pawpaws were thick on the ground

Twenty years ago I found and ate a wild pawpaw fruit while hiking, and ever since then, without being too fanatical about it, I've been looking to repeat the experience, checking various local pawpaw patches in the autumn. Today I hit the jackpot on the Turkey Hill trail, in a spot where the pawpaws were literally thick on the ground, and in the trees.
The timing was perfect, there were plenty that were ripe and ready to cut open and enjoy.

You scoop out the large seeds and eat the flesh, which should be slightly soft and not tart or bitter. The taste has elements of pineapple, kiwi, and banana, with a hint of honeydew melon. The consistency is even harder to describe; I've seen it called custardy, but it's firmer than custard, yet still melts in the mouth.

I picked a hatful to take home and left the rest for other hikers and the wildlife. Look at the leaves in the above picture--pawpaw leaves are huge and distinctive. I made them the focus of my "November Pawpaw" a few years ago:

We kept hiking to the top of Turkey Hill and enjoyed the views out over the Susquehanna River:

If you live on the east coast of the U.S. you may be familiar with Turkey Hill dairy products (and convenience stores of the same name). This is the area where the original family dairy farm originated and grew into the modern big enterprise.

This is a similar shot to the one I used as a basis for "View from Turkey Hill":

I hope you have a chance to get outside and enjoy the natural world wherever you find yourself, and Happy Trails to you.


Gerrie said...

Pickin' up Paw Paws, put 'em in your pocket!! My earworm for the day.

Sue Kaufman said...

I thought of the kindergarten song 'Where oh where is poor little Susie? Way down yonder in the paw paw patch.'

So fun because *I* was Susie! Anyway, thanks Sue for posting, I've never seen a paw paw tree and didn't know the leaves were that big. I'm fascinated with big leaves! Great story!

Sue Reno said...

I've just found out the trail we hiked passes through the world's largest pawpaw patch north of the 39th Latittude. How impressive is that?