Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Giant Ground Sloth's Delight

But first, an update on the chestnuts.  I did go back for more, and collected seven pounds!  It was pretty fun.  I wore thick leather gloves to protect my hands.  Could have used some more bug spray.  But I was just in awe at how much food was on those trees.  Incredible.  We simmered the nuts in 120 degree water for 20 minutes in an attempt to kill the weevil eggs before they hatch.  Eating an itsy bitsy bug egg is one thing, but a full blown worm in my chestnut?  Uh, no thanks.  Now the nuts are spread out on beach towels on our kitchen floor to dry.  Our kitchen is always full of "projects".

But today I want to talk about pawpaws.  Asimina triloba, our beloved North American fruit.  When we were kids a lot of us learned the song, "pickin' up pawpaws, put 'em in your pocket", but that's as close as we ever got to an actual pawpaw.  Well, they are native to this region, easy to grow, pest free, and amazing!  (But really, I don't think you could fit them in your pocket.  Maybe one per pocket, unless you have some mighty big pockets.  They're about the size of a mango or large potato.)

What are they like?  Slice them open and you'll find loads of cream-colored custardy flesh surrounding a set of large dark brown seeds.  Describing the taste is something that has eluded many.  They taste kind of like melon-banana-fruitpunch-vanilla-floral-custard.  They taste like something from the tropics.  It's really mind blowing that they grow right here. 

Some ideas for cooking with them are to make them into a smoothy.  I like this best using frozen pawpaw flesh and milk.  I bet frozen yogurt would be great too.  If you used frozen yogurt you could use fresh pawpaws and still get that chilly, slushy texture.  I also like to make a baked pudding recipe that I found in Joy of Cooking.  Oh!  And this year Jonathan made pawpaw wine!  That will deserve its own post here.

And you can't go wrong with eating them fresh off the tree.  That's how giant sloths and other megafauna ate them.  Pawpaws evolved alongside these giant animals and that's why their seeds are so big!  Who else but a giant sloth, mastadon, or camel could eat a whole pawpaw and poop out the seeds?  Dude! 

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