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My First Homegrown Pawpaw Fruit

            The one and only Pawpaw fruit fell from the big Pawpaw tree during a recent rain storm; not even the most vigorous storm, which meant the fruit was almost ready to fall on its own. It was still a little too green and a little too hard to eat, so we waited a few more days to let it ripen. With only one fruit from a whole tree it almost felt too precious to eat, and I worried I’d do something wrong: forget to take pictures, cut it open too soon, eat it all myself!

My first homegrown pawpaw fruit (tissue box shown for size reference)

            I waited, impatiently, touching it once a day to see if it had gotten softer, but mostly waiting until I could smell it; that was the real test. At first only the dogs could smell that distinct pawpaw aroma coming from the fruit, but then, if I put my nose almost against the green, mottled skin, I could start to smell it too. When I could finally smell the pawpaw from a few feet steps away, I knew it was ready. Or at least I hoped.

Cricket sniffing the pawpaw

            I dithered, though, because I was afraid that I’d exaggerated the memory of the pawpaw fruit in my mind. It had been fifteen years since my last bite and I worried that I had distorted the reality of it into something better than it could possibly be.

            But I didn’t want to let it sit there so long that it would rot, so I finally brought it into the kitchen and placed it on a cutting board, and, of course, took a picture. I tried to cut it in half, because I wanted to share it equally with Mom, but the seeds made it impossible to cut straight through. I had to accept that there is no fairness in the splitting of pawpaws, and, also, I was impatient, so I cut around the seeds and gave a small piece to Mom, and took a small piece for myself, and finally got to taste a pawpaw again.

Cut pawpaw, in bad lighting
Pawpaw seeds

            And it was delicious! The sweetness was more gentle and complex than I’d remembered, and the texture was perfect, soft but firm, and not slimy or mealy at all. It was perfect.

            The only problem was that in such a small pawpaw there were more seeds than fruit, or so it seemed, and after I’d removed the five almond-sized seeds and peeled the skin and shared half with Mom, there were only a few bites left. And then there was a wave of sadness, that the experience was over and that I’d have to wait another year, at least, to try it again. But after fifteen years of waiting for this one piece of fruit, and realizing that it was worth the wait, and knowing now that my tree could produce fruit, I decided that I could wait another year for my next bite.

            In the meantime, I cleaned the seeds and packed them in a Ziploc bag in the fridge (the article Mom found online said that we needed to add moss, not too damp and not too dry, to create the perfect pawpaw seed environment in the bag, but I left that part to her). So now the seeds are sitting in their bag in the fridge, waiting until they’re ready to be planted. And my wild pawpaw grove is building its strength as the saplings learn to stand straighter and taller every day. And the big pawpaw tree is readying for winter, its leaves starting to turn light green with a little bit of yellow here and there. Soon the leaves will all turn yellow, and then fall to the ground, and the tree will shiver through winter and start to leaf again in the spring.

Pawpaw Tree Fall 2021

And maybe next year we will have more than one fruit, so we can share the pawpaws with our friends, which is, really, the whole point.

If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

89 responses »

  1. I remember you posting about this tree before. It is a triumph that is bore edible fruit. I hope the seeds will produce more trees and more fruit!

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  2. I’ve never tasted pawpaw or even seen the tree it grows on. Maybe one day….

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  3. I love the idea of your wild pawpaw grove! Sending fruitful thoughts to those seeds!

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  4. Mmm… I love pawpaw. I miss having pawpaw trees.

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  5. I remember your post about this tree, too. Fifteen years–Rachel, I am so happy for you.

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  6. We had a similar experience with the persimmon tree we planted in March 2020 (based on a long-ago memory Barney had of half a persimmon). It was in bloom when we planted it, and the blossoms soon turned to lots of fruit, all of which fell off except for two, which we watched with great anticipation. From online sources, I was expecting the persimmons to be orangey-red, and I actually left the first one too long waiting for it to “ripen,” so it was kind of squashy, and the second one ended up being picked perhaps a bit prematurely. It, too, had a lot of seeds, but the little taste I got convinced me that Barney could have 100% of all subsequent fruits. This year again appeared promising, but this time all the fruit fell off early. The tree is so flimsy it really isn’t up to sustaining any weight, so we’re hoping it will have used this year to fortify itself for bearing next year!

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  7. I have loved every instalment of this story.

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  8. very informative…miss the picture line with likes !

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  9. I LOVE your paw paw stories!

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  10. That’s beautiful!! To my surprise I actually had Papaya on my little tree this year!

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  11. Congratulations! Here’s hoping for more fruit next year!♥️

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  12. That tree is an exotic treasure, it’s amazing what you can grow in the garden, what’s next though Pineapple? :0)

    I’m so pleased it was ripe and more seeds to plant. Brilliant.

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  13. Is there a fruit it tastes like ?

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  14. I have recently read two posts where paw paws are mentioned (the other blogger was looking for some). Congratulations and enjoy!

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  15. My mom used to sing a song that went “way down yonder in the Paw Paw patch.”
    Glad your trees are growing!

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  16. How exciting and rewarding. So glad the tree has started fruiting. Bring on the next year.

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  17. Some day there is going to be a Pawpaw forest in your neighborhood, and children of the future will wonder how the exotic fruit came to be there!

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  18. For the longest time, I thought pawpaw was just another name for papaya. Didn’t knowit was a fruit of its own until now!

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  19. One is surely better than none – pleased it was worth the wait Rachel.

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  20. It’s wonderful that your Pawpaw tree finally bore fruit. Hopefully, a better crop next time…Anyway, congratulations on your patience!

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  21. I’ve never tasted nor eaten a pawpaw. I’ve often wondered how they taste.

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  22. Hurrah hurrah – well done to the Pawpaw tree and well done to you for your patience and persistence. Lets hope this is the start of a dynasty. I bet it tasted good! 🙂

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  23. Wow that’s interested. Now you’ve made me hungry to try one. LOL

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  24. I’m sure Cricket and Ellie would be very happy if that tree would give enough for them, too! (I looked it up, as I’m sure you have, and found it is very good for dogs!)

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  25. Wonderful news! So happy for your pawpaw fruit after the precarious journey to your cutting board – full speed ahead with the seeds!

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  26. How wonderful, precious, and delightful. Hopefully you’ll have several fruit next year.

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  27. A happy day! I’m curious. How would you describe the taste? We just returned from visiting my childhood home where we always do a fair bit of hiking. The trails weave through Paw paw groves that line the various streams that feed the river. Our trip this year just happened to fall at the same time the ripe fruit was falling from the tree. My kids got their first taste of the fruit. It was fun listening to them describe the taste. Each referred to different fruity flavors in their descriptions.

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  28. Thanks for the picture of the tree. Maybe now I can find them.

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  29. I’m guessing this fruit has a unique taste. What other fruit would come close to its flavor– if any? Have a good one, Rachel.
    Art

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  30. I wish I could try pawpaw fruit! I’m so glad you guys
    got some.

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  31. Yeah!!!!!!!
    So glad you finally got a fruit. There will be more next year.

    BTW, I find it easier to cut it in the other direction. (short way)
    Then you will have half the seeds on one side and half on the other.
    Use a spoon to scoop the fruit out of the skin. (I eat kiwi the same way)
    Enjoy and spit out the seeds.

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  32. So glad to hear that Mama got to share pawpaw. snorf

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  33. Of course being me I got away from commenting on the pawpaw and began to think of the metaphor around the whole experience. I didn’t want to go too far with it since all that hard work for such a small sweet bite reminded me of PTSD healing process a little too much! But it is a deeply optimistic story even if I wish that the first year there had been more than one pawpaw. Rather like the way I react to some of my “victories.”

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  34. Lulu: “Ooh, fruit! I hear that Mama and Dada planted a pawpaw here years ago, but it died. Then they planted a pear tree in the same spot and it died too. Maybe they need to find a different spot …”

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  35. I’ve never tried a paw-paw! Now you’ve made me curious enough to possibly buy one.

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  36. Congratulations on your wonderful harvest. 15 years is a long time, but oh the sweet reward. I look forward to next year’s harvest.
    ~applause & dancing with joy~ for you

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  37. One of the few things I don’t like about living in Phoenix is that I can’t garden worth a darn. Everyone says you can, but I can’t! Anyway, I have savored all your pawpaw stories! They are reminiscent of my days with full vegetable, herb and flower gardens, and the anticipation of planting something, watching it grow and waiting for the end result. I have never seen a pawpaw, but would love to taste one. Just wanted you to know I thought of you today as I ordered tea with soursop (no, I didn’t know what it was), but the description sounded lovely. The package arrived, and when hubby asked what the heck is soursop, we learned it’s another name for pawpaw! And it was delicious also.

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  38. Congrats on your success. A beautiful piece of fruit!

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  39. I called my grandfather PawPaw.I wrote a book for him. He died years ago and when he called me to say “goodbye” he said, ” Paw Paw’s proud of you”.
    I live in Sweden and don’t think I have seen a pawpaw tree but I am part of One.

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  40. Pawpaws are a low-growing tree that has been historically collected for its fruit. It’s often known as the “poor man’s banana” because it is easy to gather and eat. The pawpaw fruit is only available in small quantities, but it can be collected during late summer, fall, or winter months. This fruit is often eaten raw, but some people prefer to cook it using boiling water or pressure cooking. It can also be used for making desserts and jams.

    Reply

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