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My List: Pawpaw Fruit

I ate paw paw fruit! It’s on my List. Here’s the story:

Pawpaw trees are native to the east coast of the United States. I had never heard of them until a couple of years ago when I saw them in a garden catalog. I wondered what they tasted like, but I couldn’t find them anywhere. Why doesn’t anyone sell pawpaws? (It’s because they don’t travel well: they’re too soft.) Looking them up on the internet, I saw that they grow plentifully in the Shenandoah Valley. That’s not too far from here! But every time I checked for pawpaw season, I was too late.

Until this year.

It’s pawpaw season right now! I confirmed with the owner of Peterson Pawpaws, who was very helpful and sent me an email telling not only that it was pawpaw season, but listed four places I could go to get them. If you want to buy a pawpaw tree, I highly recommend him. The closest place that sold fruit was Mackintosh Fruit Farm. I called and they said they had two boxes of them, so off I went.

Two varieties!

I didn’t taste them until I got home. I needed a knife to cut them and a spoon to scoop them out. There were two varieties, Pennsylvania Golden and Shenandoah. I preferred Pennsylvania Golden because it was sweeter. Here is my best attempt at describing the feel and taste of paw paws: The flesh of the fruit feels like mango flesh. It’s smooth, creamy, and only slightly juicy. The flavor is sort of tropical. A little like mango, a little banana-like, a little like raw pumpkin flesh, a little starchy. Fragrant, and not super sweet. I like them, but they seem like an acquired taste. I got a bunch of them, so I’ll eat them all and see if I acquire it.

My hand is for scale.

Mackintosh Fruit Farm is right next to Harper’s Ferry. It is such a historical type place, I just had to stop there. It has many old buildings and some fun stores, but not much parking. I ended up parking way up a hill next to an old hotel that is in the process of collapsing. It looks like a meteor hit the front of the building.

This picture doesn’t do it justice:
It was completely fenced off.

The view from the hotel’s front yard is astounding. I posed for a senior picture.
Too bad I didn't have my high school class ring with me.


  1. Lauren

    Ha! I like your senior picture shot.

    The texture of those paw paws looks a lot like the part of the pumpkin you scoop out. I’m guessing the seeds aren’t edible? Did you save them for a future paw paw plantation?

    • Brad

      It’s funny you should mention pumpkin. The taste of my very first bite of pawpaw reminded me of the way a pumpkin smells when you first cut it open. I am going to go back and write that into the description.

      The seeds aren’t edible. They’re dark and hard and shiny and pretty. I am not going to start growing pawpaws unless I aquire a taste for them. Even then, it would be hard to site them in my garden. They are big trees and you have to plant two in order to get any fruit because of pollination issues.

  2. Lloyd

    I can just hear the photographer at your senior pictures, “Now look like you’re worried that that bear might be getting a little too close.”

  3. Peggy

    Yay….you went on a field trip! From the sounds of it, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t like a paw paw fruit.

    Btw: Did you go up the hand carved steps to St. Peter’s? They can be a bugger. Did you go to the cemetary on top of the hill? That is some hike to get up there….but pretty cool once you make it. (Also, if you ever go again….you should see signs for parking lots & a shuttle will bring you to the town at no charge. It runs all day.)

    • Brad

      I did go up to St. Peter’s, I was laughing at how hard I was breathing. I should exercise more. I didn’t go up any farther. I enjoyed the view and then went back down.

      I drove to that other parking lot but it’s WAY far away. I was afraid I’d sit and wait for the shuttle bus and it wouldn’t come and I’d spend half my day at the bus stop. It ended up being okay, because I got to see the crumbly hotel and the amazing view. Plus, I walked more, which I’m sure was good for me…

  4. Deanne Marino

    So if you like it are you going to get a tree?

    • Brad

      There’s some confusion on the internet about how big these trees are. Some sites say 60 feet. Others say 15 feet. That’s a pretty big difference. I’ve already planted several trees on my property, so I don’t have much room left. I probably won’t be planting these. If I had an empty lot, I might do it though. Once the trees are established, you don’t really have to do anything to take care of them. No spraying, no fertilizing, no pruning. They just grow on their own and bear fruit. Native plants are so easy.

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