What Is Pawpaw Fruit And How Does It Taste?

Pawpaw fruits on tree
Pawpaw fruits on tree - Jon Kraft/Getty Images

Do you love mangoes, bananas, or melons? Then you should definitely try pawpaw fruit. Sweet and creamy, it tastes like banana and mango blended together. It also has hints of pineapple or lemon and a custard-like texture that will make you feel like you're eating dessert.

Sometimes called the poor man's banana, the pawpaw is the largest fruit that grows natively in North America. It belongs to the Annonaceae family, which also includes sugar apples, cherimoyas, soncoyas, and other edible fruits. It's a staple of indigenous American diets and can be found at farmers markets, but it's not widely available in stores. The reason lies in its short shelf-life, which is only three to five days. "You have to get it and eat it, or do something with it, otherwise, it's gone," said Integration Acres founder (and pawpaw producer) Chris Chmiel in an interview with The Atlantic.

This flavorful fruit is delicious as is, but you can also use it in sweet bread, pies, smoothies, puddings, or cocktails. With its creamy texture, it's just perfect for homemade ice cream and sorbets. Simply cut it in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and spoon out the flesh.

Read more: 12 Vegetables And Fruits That Used To Look Very Different

What Do Pawpaws Taste Like?

Person holding a pawpaw fruit
Person holding a pawpaw fruit - Krblokhin/Getty Images

The pawpaw can be described as a rainbow of flavors, with notes of mango, banana, pear, pineapple, and honeydew. Some people compare it to banana custard, while others say it tastes like custard apples. The flavor can vary depending on the ripeness of the fruit, but you can expect it to be rather sweet with hints of citrus.

"Tastes like a banana, mango, and cantaloupe had a baby," wrote a Reddit user. Another one said, "Good pawpaws have a banana, mango, pineapple, vanilla, and slightly floral-ish flavor. They are sweet and not acidic, but sometimes you get a bitter one, especially if it is underripe." This delicious fruit is often referred to as banango, hillbilly mango, or Indiana banana, which reflects its distinctive flavor.

Its texture is unique, too. Ripe pawpaws are soft, creamy, and custard-like, with a consistency similar to that of bananas. Their flesh is smooth and buttery and can vary in color from pale yellow to a deeper orange. Just make sure you discard the peel and seeds, as they may cause nerve toxicity, vomiting, and neurodegenerative symptoms.

The Pawpaw Fruit Is A Nutritional Powerhouse

Person eating a pawpaw fruit
Person eating a pawpaw fruit - Sandra Teddy/Getty Images

Despite their sweet flavor, pawpaws have fewer calories and carbs than a banana. A 3.5-ounce serving provides 80 calories, just over a gram of protein, and nearly 19 grams of carbs, including almost 3 grams of fiber. By comparison, bananas have around 92 calories, 1 gram of protein, and just over 23 grams of carbs, including slightly more than 2 grams of fiber per 3.5 ounces. The pawpaw fruit is also rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, calcium, iron, and antioxidants.

Vitamin C, one of its most abundant nutrients, supports immune function and fights oxidative stress. Some studies suggest that it may protect against cancer, heart disease, and gout. Pawpaws are also higher in calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium than bananas. These minerals promote bone development and metabolic health, among other functions.

If you can get your hands on pawpaws, enjoy them fresh or use them in raw desserts and baked goods. A good place to start is creamy pawpaw pie, which requires just a few basic ingredients. You can also mix the mashed fruit into cookie dough and puddings or turn it into jam. For a quick snack, scoop out the pulp into a small bowl and top it with flaked almonds, ground walnuts, or homemade vanilla ice cream.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.