Danélle Cutting: Exactly what is a pawpaw?

Published 12:00 am Friday, August 12, 2016

Fall is just around the corner and although it is not the peak season of summer vegetables (corn, yellow squash, tomatoes, etc.), the season does provide some great fruits and vegetables as well as some great entertainment. Below are a few questions that our office has received in the past week:

Question: I have been seeing lots of fruit in beers lately, and one of them is Pawpaw. What is this, and is it grown locally?

Answer: Pawpaw is actually a native fruit to North America. I can best describe the taste as being in between a mango and a banana. I also think the fruits smell like citrus peels. I love the flavor, but it is definitely unique.

They are fairly prevalent as an understory tree but have very little fruit in the wild. Because of this, Kentucky has created a breeding program to increase their yields to see if they can grow a pawpaw that will be good for commercial orchards. They have also released some different varieties due to their achievements.

Because the fruit has a short shelf life, many buyers take the fruit as frozen pulp and make sauces, ice cream and yes, even beer. There is even a Pawpaw Festival in Winston-Salem being held Aug. 27 from 10 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Forsyth County Extension office (1450 Fairchild Road). For more information on the festival, visit: https://www.facebook.com/ncpawpaw/

Question: Will the Salisbury Farmers’ Market have a cooking competition this year?

Answer: Glad you asked! They will be having a cooking competition this Saturday. This is the first Ultimate Chef competition and is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Amateurs and chefs are encouraged to compete to see who is best; the winner will proceed to the next competition and eventually get to cook alongside chef Dr. Vivian Ray or chef D’Andrea from Divine Appetit Company. There is a registration fee of $10.

To see if you would like to participate as a contestant, visit this website: http://www.ultimatechefmarketchallenge.com/

To see the different heats, come by the Salisbury Farmers’ Market, 270 W. Fisher St., at 9, 10 and 11 a.m.

Question: When is the last DIY (Do It Yourself) gardening series class? I have not heard all of the details yet, and I would like to know what it is about before I sign up.

Answer: The last DIY Gardening Series class will be on pollinators. It will be 9:30-11 a.m. on Aug. 27 at the Rowan County Cooperative Extension office, 2727 Old Concord Road. Participants will learn about all of the pollinator plants grown at the office and how they can create their own butterfly waystations.

This program is not just about bees; it is about all pollinators and how important each one is to our way of life. Be sure to bring a hat, walking shoes and some water to keep hydrated. When you are done visiting the pollinator garden, stay a while and learn about the other gardens at the office to get a few ideas to take home with you. The program is free, but registration is required; please call the office at 704-216-8970 to sign up.

If you would like to learn more about pawpaws, the local farmers’ markets, planting for pollinators, or to RSVP for the DIY Gardening Series class, call your local Cooperative Extension agent, Danélle Cutting, at 704-216-8970.