When it's not cold and wet, boy oh boy, do I love autumn. We had a picture-perfect day yesterday: the bluest of blue skies and the leaves turning gorgeous shades of red, orange and gold. I just couldn't be indoors.
As often happens when I'm out hiking, I end up coming home with wild edibles I've foraged. I recently wrote about the blackberries and Concord grapes I found. Perhaps more accurately, I should say they found me. Really, that's usually how it happens. A pleasant, and always welcome, surprise.
But yesterday's find, well, that was like discovering a rare and precious buried treasure. Only this treasure wasn't buried — it was hanging from a tree. Pawpaws!
What the heck is a Pawpaw?
The pawpaw is actually the largest berry fruit in the States. And, I mean large. Like, the size of a cantaloupe (only, they're shaped more like a kidney).
To discover that I have a "tropical" fruit growing within miles of my home, makes me squeal with delight. Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are the top leaders in pawpaw production. Who knew?
Okay, so I gave the tree a little shake, and down they came. I scooped up a good 20 pounds worth into my pack and left a few remaining on the ground for my four-legged friends, the deer.
I had to try one as soon as I got home. The yellow flesh tastes like a cross between a mango, banana and pineapple, with just a hint of nutmeg thrown into the mix. Amazing.
What's even more amazing is that as I'm grieving the end of my backyard store, putting my garden to bed for its long winter's nap, this delectable fruit is just now ripe and ready to harvest in early autumn. Thanks, Mother Nature! Nicely planned.
Alright, so I've already started playing in the laboratory my kitchen to see what I could create with these beauties. I have a smoothie recipe to share with you, and remember my cute Mini Mango Birthday Pies? Well, they inspired a batch of Pawpaw Tarts. Enjoy!
1 ripe pawpaw, peeled & seeded 2 C fresh-squeezed orange juice 2 Tbsp mint leaves, chopped juice of half a lime
Blend until smooth.
Carob Chip Crust
1 C almond meal 1/2 C sunflower seeds 1/2 ripe banana 5 medjool dates, pitted 1/4 C raw cacao nibs 2 Tbsp raw honey 1 tsp cinnamon
Blend together for a nice chunky consistency. Avoid over-processing to allow for texture and crunch. Press mixture into tartlet tins and refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.
1 ripe pawpaw, peeled & seeded
Blend until smooth and creamy. Add a bit of lemon juice to keep the mixture from browning. Scoop into tart crust. Chill if you prefer a firmer filling, or serve fresh.