Pawpaws are native to the eastern US and in my opinion almost completely unknown. I guess this is due the fact that the pawpaw “does not store or ship well” . I have lived in Maryland all my life and I am fortunate enough to have great memories of picking and eating pawpaws along the C&O canal.
Their texture is close to a banana or maybe a papaya. Their taste is unique and for me I can only say they taste like a pawpaw. They look like a mango and usually have black spots that make them look like they’re covered in mold.
Searching for recipes on the internet is a disappointment due to their relative obscurity. But wikipedia says, “In many recipes calling for bananas, pawpaw can be used with volumetric equivalency”. It’s a fairly labor intensive process to get the maximum amount of pulp from a pawpaw. The biggest issue with getting the pulp is the seeds.
The seeds have a thick membrane around them that clings to the pulp so if you want to get the most out of your pawpaw you are going to have to get that membrane off of the seeds. I peeled mine by hand the skin is really thin and if the pawpaw is ripe it comes off easily. I guess most of my pawpaws were technically unripe because they were fairly green but they tasted ripe so I just used them anyway.
Normally you can walk around a grove of pawpaw trees and find ripe ones hanging from a tree. We cheated a little bit. When my mother would spot a tree with some in it I would give it a shake and wait for a hail of pawpaws to fall to the ground. Hind sight being what it is I probably should have had some head gear because these things are heavy and some of the really unripe ones are hard as a rock. But I was lucky and didn’t get a pawpaw to the skull.
4 c. pawpaws seeded and peeled
4 c. sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 packet pectin (I used sure-jell)
Sterilize the jars by boiling in hot water or washing in the dish washer hot cycle.
Put the lids in a bowl and cover with boiling water.
Bring the pawpaws and lemon juice to a rolling boil.
Slowly mix in the pectin.
Mix in the sugar.
Bring to a rolling boil and boil for one minute.
Fill the jars with some room for the liquid to expand, about 1/8 of an inch from the opening.
Put the lids on and secure with the screw top rings.
Add the jars to boiling water in your canning pot for 10-20 minutes. (I used a big pot with a steamer basket in the bottom to keep the cans off the bottom).
Remove them from the water and let them cool at room temperature for 24 hours.
*Disclaimer: I made this recipe up. I can’t attest to the “safety” of this recipe because canning with untested recipes could possibly lead to spoilage. So if you are a little freaked out, you can always freeze or store in the fridge for a couple of months with relative safety.
Thoughts on the jam: It really didn’t hold that unique pawpaw flavor well. It tasted good, but it really just tasted like “jam”. I have a few pawpaws left over that still need to ripen a bit so I’m hoping that I can get enough out of them to mix some jam and fresh pawpaws to whip up some pawpaw ice cream.