A Pawpaw Ripens in Pittsburgh

~~ Pawpaw: In Search of America’s Forgotten Fruit is now available in paperback. Click here!~~

 

Today is the 1st of September. And in our region, September means pawpaw.

These 30 days, roughly, are pawpaw season for much of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest.

Personally, this has already been one of the most exciting pawpaw seasons to date.

A few weeks ago I harvested the first pawpaw from the first tree I’d ever grown myself. I started this tree, and its companion a few feet away, from seed seven years ago.

The two seedlings that are now producing have been through quite a bit. Both were started in five gallon buckets before I had any land on which to plant them. They had been variously snapped in half (and eaten!) by groundhogs, crushed by a mulberry limb (chopped down by yours truly), and lost all their flowers to late frosts. And the soil I began with was not ideal.

And yet they thrive, and give fruit.

The fruit ripened quite early for Pittsburgh–on August 16th. I’d begun to gently squeeze the pawpaws a few days earlier, to test for ripeness. I thought I was being impatient; they shouldn’t have been ripe yet. But a single cluster of two fruits did in fact give to the pressure of my fingertips.

I wanted to let it ripen on the tree, not my counter top, so I waited. Perhaps a little too long though, because one morning I looked for the fruit only to find a void where the pawpaws had been, the peduncle now freed of the fruit’s weight.

DSC_0054

 

Perhaps it’s fitting though that the first pawpaws I grew and ate would have fallen from the tree. Like the song instructs: pickin’ up pawpaws.

 

The largest of the two weighed 5.1 oz, and the smaller weighed just 3 ounces.

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