Pawpaw Harvest Guide
Pawpaws are a rare treat in Toronto! Not widely known, they are also called Kentucky bananas or custard apples but are not commercially grown anywhere and have a native range within eastern North America.
What they look like:
Pawpaws are green when ripe, but some varieties can lighten to a yellow colour. They are oval-shaped, and have a length of 3-6 inches when mature, which is similar in size to a small mango. When cut open pawpaws have two rows of brown lima bean-shaped seeds and the insides have a white to creamy yellow colour.
When they’re ready:
Late August to October in Toronto.
When to contact Not Far From The Tree to schedule a pick:
We’ll need 3-5 days notice to organize a pick so contact us when the fruit is almost ripe at email@example.com or 647-769-7425. A good time to call is when 1/3 to 2/3 of the fruit is ripe as pawpaws ripen in stages. It can be difficult to tell when pawpaws are ready because they don’t have any striking visual cues. Give it a gentle squeeze and see if it’s soft! If they start to develop brown spots that means they are near being overripe.
You’ll know they’re ready to harvest when…
The fruit gives into soft pressure, much like a peach. The fruit smells fragrant and tastes like a mix of mango, pineapple, and banana. When you cut into the fruit, it will have a custard-like texture and a yellow center.
To harvest pawpaws, gently pull on the top of the stem without breaking the skin of the fragile fruit. The less damage done to the fruit, the longer it will last.
Pawpaws need to be processed or eaten right away, as their shelf life is quite short. Cut it in half and scoop out the insides with a spoon!
Pictured above: A pawpaw cut in half. Note the creamy texture and pale yellow colour [Photo cred: Samara Limnell].
Pawpaws do not have a long shelf life and can quickly go from ripe to rotten within a few days. Pawpaws give off a gas called ethylene that causes nearby fruits and vegetables to ripen more quickly, so keep this in mind when finding a place to store them. When the pawpaws start to develop brown spots or lighten in colour its time to eat them right away or put them in the fridge to extend their shelf life for a few more days. Make breads, pies, sorbet/ice cream, muffins, and drinks or eat it as is!
Check out our Fruit Guide for harvesting details for other local edibles.