Posts filed under ‘Pawpaw’

Pawpaw Alert – Falls Ridge

Blacksburg, Virginia Pawpaw Enthusiasts – When we were at Falls Ridge with Sagan, we saw some pawpaws by the creek above the falls. If you yearn to see a pawpaw fruiting in the wild, that may be a spot worth your attention next fall.

Please note- you’ll want to research The Nature Conservancy’s rules regarding eating them.

Falls Ridge - October 2011 - Pawpaw Leaves and Trunks
Pawpaw Trees

This pawpaw sighting has been added to

October 21, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Pawpaw Hunting Addendum

Want to learn more about pawpaws? NPR has got you covered! Just six days after Ryan and I took Sagan Pawpaw Hunting at Fountainhead Regional Park, NPR did a story on “Foraging for America’s Forgotten Fruit“. You can listen to the full story online.

I also recommend watching their Tiny Desk Kitchen video (embedded below). It reveals their harvesting technique is very similiar to Ryan’s approach. They also put up a “Taste a Pawpaw” stand outside of the NPR offices and got people’s reactions.

As for reactions, when I introduced my father to pawpaws, his reaction was this:

“Ew, it’s ugly!”

He also complained about all the seeds and that it didn’t look “worth it.”

Despite all that, he still tasted the fruit…and rather liked it. : )


September 29, 2011 at 8:14 pm Leave a comment

Take a Child Outside Week – Pawpaw Hunting and Sagan’s First Hike

Saturday was the first day of Take a Child Outside Week!  It was also National Public Lands Day.  And in case we needed another reason to get out, late September – October is also pawpaw fruiting season. 

George Washington was quite a fan of Asimina triloba, North America’s largest indigenous fruit. He declared “chilled pawpaw” to be his favorite dessert. Although I rather enjoy the taste, I wouldn’t quite go that far. It would be hard to top crème brûlée!

Ryan and I have been growing some pawpaw seedlings for a couple of years now.  It’ll be a while before those trees fruit, so we thought we would see if we could locate some more established trees near our new home.  During National Walk in the Woods Day I took a shot of a small pawpaw tree near a creek at Fountainhead Regional Park.  Figuring where there is a small tree, they may be bigger ones, we decided to retrace our steps and see what we can find.

We brought little Sagan along, fulfilling the requirement of taking a child outside.  This journey would be Sagan’s very first hike!  He pretty much slept through the entire thing.  🙂

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Sagan and Trail
Sagan’s First Hike (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Had Sagan been awake (and had fully developed vision), he would have seen a squirrel, a daddy long-legs, a crayfish nest and a heron flying overhead.

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Crayfish Nest
Crayfish Burrow

Flora – Pawpaws
It didn’t take us long to get to the creek. We saw plenty of small trees without fruit. It didn’t look too promising until a small grove near the creek shoreline caught my eye. Upon closer examination, we found fruit laying on the ground!

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Vicky and Sagan with Pawpaw Fruit
Vicky and Sagan with Discovered Fruit (Photo by Ryan Somma)

Then we looked up and saw examples of pawpaw fruit still in the trees.

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Pawpaw in Tree
Pawpaw Fruit

The non-bug infested fruit wasn’t quite ripe yet, but we still got the thrill of the hunt. It was also nice to establish that the favorite dessert of our nation’s first President was still alive in well in Northern Virginia!

Flora – Fungi
Between Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and various other storms, this area has had more than its fair share of rain. It may have had its miserable moments at the time, but on Saturday we sure profited from the extra moisture. The trail has what Ryan deemed a “mushroom explosion”. We had plenty of neat fungi to marvel at while we walked.

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Mushroom Explosion
Hillside with Scattered Mushrooms

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Coral-like Mushroom
A Coral-Like Mushroom

Take a Child Outside Week - Fountainhead Regional Park - Orange Mushrooms on Log
Bright Orange Mushrooms

Sagan’s first outing was definitely a brief one. I doubt we even traveled a mile round trip. But I find myself very satisfied with everything we saw in that short journey.

More pictures of our hike at Fountainhead Regional Park are on my Flickr site.

Additional Pawpaw Posts
2009 Pawpaw Hunt
My First Pawpaw Tasting

September 26, 2011 at 11:04 am 3 comments

Spring….According to the Chestnuts and Pawpaws

When Ryan and I moved, we of course brought along all our potted American chestnuts and a selection of potted pawpaws.  Our baby trees were the very first thing that got unpacked!  When we left Elizabeth City (February 27th) most of the chestnuts were sporting fresh buds, but the pawpaws were still solidly dormant.

On March 25th, we had our first American chestnut leaf sighting of 2011! (The leaves are much bigger now)

First Baby Chestnut Leaf - March_25_2011
Aww… First Chestnut Leaf for 2011

The pawpaws were a little further behind. Their first leaves showed up on April 1, 2011. Slackers. : )

May 17, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Recipe: Pawpaw Bread

With some of our pawpaws from the Dismal Swamp State Park, we made Pawpaw Bread. It’s like banana bread, just with pawpaws instead of banana. I thought it was delicious. Although I couldn’t tell the difference between it and normal banana bread, my mother said she could.

The recipe I used below is similar to the one in Better Homes and Garden’s New Cook Book (I add vanilla, put in more cinnamon and of, course, use pawpaws instead of bananas).

  • 4-5 pawpaws
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon shredded lemon peel
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. After removing the numerous seeds, mash the pulp of the pawpaws with a fork.
  3. In a mixing bowl combine the pawpaws, the egg, the sugar and the olive oil.
  4. Mix in the baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, lemon peel, vanilla and finally the flour.
  5. Stir in the walnuts.
  6. Pour in a loaf pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


October 12, 2009 at 7:55 am 2 comments

Pawpaw Hunting at Dismal Swamp State Park

September is winding down which means it is pawpaw season! North America’s largest indigenous, edible fruit typically ripens between August and October. Last year, I purchased my pawpaws from a lady in Blacksburg who had two trees in her yard. They were delicious– like a mango crème brûlée. They were so good, I found myself sucking the skin to savor all the flavor I could.

This year, I definitely wanted to relive the experience but I’m living quite a bit a ways from Blacksburg. I needed to find a more convenient source.

Enter the Dismal Swamp State Park. Just seventeen miles north of Elizabeth City, the park is home to pawpaw trees. How do I know this? It says so right on the website!

Persimmon, poke, blueberry, various oaks, black walnut and tall pawpaw also provide food for wildlife.

-Excerpt from “Dismal Swamp State Park – Ecology” page.

Alas, there are 22 square miles of protected forest wetlands in the Dismal Swamp State Park. That’s a lot of area to cover. While researching, I noticed there was an canal called “Pawpaw Ditch”. That seemed like a promising place to start our search– so Ryan Somma, the two dogs and I headed out thinking we had an eight mile hike ahead of us.

However, as we were entering the park, we inquired with the park ranger, “Do you know where any pawpaw trees are?”

Lo and behold, he cited trees on the boardwalk right near the Welcome Center.


“But there’s been a man waiting for them and I think he picked them clean,” the ranger added.


We decided to check out the nearby trees anyway and sure enough, no fruit was to be seen. Next we tried the Supplejack Trail, also near the Welcome Center. Although we came across a number of familiar trees with the familiar leaves, all the fruit appeared to be gone.

And then! We saw a tree with fruit! Sadly they weren’t ready to be picked, but they gave us hope!

Dismal Swamp State Park -Ryan Points at Paw paws
Ryan Points to First Fruit Sighting

We continued along and I decided to investigate a tree a little off the trail. I didn’t see any fruit. To add insult to injury, I managed to get myself cornered in some brush. You know the saying “Between a rock and a hard place”? I was between thorny bushes and devil’s walking stick… in shorts no less.

As I struggled to get out while minimizing the abrasions to my limbs, I brushed against the tree. I heard a soft thump behind me. I turned around– and there at my feet was a perfectly ripe pawpaw! I shrieked like a little girl. I shook the tree on purpose and TWO more ripe pawpaws joined me on the ground. I shrieked again like an annoying little girl. But I was elated– we had found our first three pawpaws!

Dismal Swamp - Vicky with First Three Pawpaws (by Ryan Somma)
Me with our Pawpaw Find (Photo by Ryan Somma)

I ate one right there on the trail. And for the second year in a row, I found myself sucking on the skin.

Dismal Swamp - Vicky Eats Pawpaw (Photo by Ryan Somma)
Eating First Pawpaw of 2009 (Photo by Ryan Somma)

After that, searching for pawpaws got a lot easier. I think some of it was because we were getting further down the Supplejack Trail. And I think some of it was because we had fine tuned a technique that worked for us.

Ryan Demonstrates Pawpaw Hunting Technique

We look forward to a week of pawpaw breakfasts and desserts and introducing the neighborhood kids to a new fruit. In the meantime– a lot more fruit awaits at the Dismal Swamp State Park’s Supplejack Trail! Go get it!

More pictures of our Pawpaw Hunt can be found on my Flickr site.

September 20, 2009 at 11:56 pm 10 comments

Week of New Tastes

Last weekend a few friends of mine went on a backpacking trip with no food. They aimed to eat only what they could forage, to take advantage of the tastes and bounty the great forests of the Shenandoah Mountains had to offer. Their menu was vastly different than the usual restaurant offerings, so they got to experience a variety of new tastes.

This week, I also got to try some new tastes. But I got to do it from the comfort of my own home (which by the way is For Sale!!!), with ready access to Food Lion to supplement my diet AND unlike one of my friends, I would not end up getting dreadfully ill from bad crabapples.

This week, I tasted the products of two different types of trees that were growing locally.

Chinese Chestnut
Sunday, I met a crew at Catawba’s famous The Home Place for Brunch. For those of you who don’t know, The Home Place is incredibly popular and there is usually a lengthy queue for a table. While we waited, I wandered the grounds and found a Chinese Chestnut growing, surrounded by tons of fallen burrs. I grabbed a few and a leaf, mostly for my continued education about the American Chestnut.

But then… those chestnuts sat in my car and looked delicious. So I decided to eat one. It turns out it is quite easy! You crack the shell a little and stick it in the microwave to heat it up.

Educational material….that I would eventually eat.

OMG! It is DELICIOUS!!!!!! And what boggles my mind– the American Chestnut is supposed to taste even better! #@*&^%!!! How is that even possible?!?!

That one chestnut was SO delicious that the next day, I walked my dogs and just happened to mosey by another Chinese Chestnut tree I spied on Givens Road. I had every intent on snagging another chestnut to devour. Alas, the squirrels beat me to it.

So Plan B. That one chestnut was SO delicious that the next day, I groped underneath the passenger seat of my car (my very very very messy car) because I believed I had another chestnut that rolled underneath it. I was right! I found it. Muahaha.

If you haven’t heard of a pawpaw, then I needed to work better on selling the Passion for Pawpaws Roanoke Times article in my Links for 2008-10-08 post. My bad.

Quick synopsis about pawpaws- They are the U.S.’s largest edible native fruit. But because they have a short shelf-life, they were never cultivated, so we don’t hear about them. That doesn’t mean they aren’t great– they were one of George Washington’s favorite desserts! That’s right– if the Father of Our Country did the Mosiac Meme, tile #9 may very well look like:

Part of George Washington’s Mosaic Meme? (Photo by Vicki’s Pics)

I had already heard a couple of great things about pawpaws, but the Roanoke Times article sealed the deal. I needed to eat one and since they were fruiting now, I needed one STAT.

I sent out a flurry of emails and even a Twitter inquiry, looking for pawpaws. My search did not look promising. Over the years I have built up a lot of solid contacts of outdoorsy folks. And yet, half the people replied, “What’s a pawpaw?” and then the other half told *me* to get *them* one.

I did web searches. I stopped by the Blacksburg Farmer’s Market. I did more web searches. All to no avail.

And then……

Craig’s List!

Someone was selling them on Craig’s List…and not too far from my house!!! Four for a Dollar! Four! A Dollar! I ran over there in the rain, deposited my dollar and grabbed four of them. I was pretty full from supper, so I let the fruit sit on my counter overnight.

I woke up the next morning to my entire house smelling like decadent pawpaw. They are very fragrant! With the exception of checking email and posting to Facebook (about pawpaws), the first thing I did that morning was scurry downstairs and eat a pawpaw.

OMG! It is DELICIOUS!!!!!! I keep reading that it is like a cross between a bananna and a mango. I would actually describe it as reminiscent of mango crème brûlée. And do you know what my favorite dessert was on the Mosiac Meme? Crème brûlée! I think George Washington may be on to something here.

That one pawpaw was SO delicious that I found myself sucking on the skin just to get as much flavor as was absolutely possible.

First thing in the morning (aka no makeup or shower)- sucking on a pawpaw

Anyway, if you live in the Blacksburg area and want to try some for yourself– you are in luck! Visit 1007 Turner Street. There is a self service fruit stand in the front yard. The owners expect to have pawpaws for two more weeks.

What’s Next?

What my next new tree taste? I gathered up some nuts from Larry’s Shagbark Hickory trees. I’m going to let the nuts dry out a couple of months before cracking into them!

October 11, 2008 at 9:01 pm 10 comments

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