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Monday, October 13, 2008

BIG POTATOES AND THE WEST VIRGINIA BANANA

I'll get to the most interesting post first-----the West Virginia Banana, or as they are more commonly called, the pawpaw.

Pawpaws have been around for a long time. DeSoto in 1541 found the Native Americans cultivating it east of the Mississippi River and Lewis and Clark depended on it during their travels. Thomas Jefferson planted it at Monticello and George Washington enjoyed it as a dessert.

The best way to eat it is to bite the top off, squeeze the fruit out, and spit the seeds as you go. And there are a lot of seeds! These big seeds, as seen in the picture below, were taken from one small pawpaw.


The ripe fruit has a very short shelf life of 2 or 3 days. A tropical fruit far from the tropics! They have three times as much vitamin C as an apple, twice as much riboflavin and niacin as an orange, and about the same potassium as a banana. They have been called the "poor man's banana."

I remember going to my Aunt Gracie's as a child and picking them in the woods behind her house.

They are pungent and I can only eat a few before I tire of them for the season. You might say it's an acquired taste, you love them or you hate them.

My two younger sons went pawpaw searching and only came back with a few. I believe it was a little too early to pick them yet, but they were anxious to find some. Maybe they will try again later. Below are three I'm holding in my hand.


As you can see they aren't a very pretty fruit. Some old timers wont eat them until they turn entirely black.

Here is a fun site I found to read about pawpaws.


NOW, on to our big potatoes.

We've grown red potatoes in our garden the last couple of years. We hate dealing with the potato bugs, but love home grown potatoes, especially the red ones.

We're still digging them out of the ground. I sent my son to the garden Sunday to dig some for me to cook, he came back with these:


Here's the biggest one by itself. You don't have to peel many of these for a bowl of mashed potatoes!


Hope you enjoyed my post.

Let's have an informal poll.

Do you like pawpaws, or would you rather eat the red potatoes?

9 comments:

  1. Good post. I love pawpaws. Did you know that pawpaw blossoms aren't pollinated by birds or bee's? Instead, the blooms smell like rotting meat and are pollinated by flies and beetles.

    Pawpaw's have a very low pollination rate when compared to other fruit tree's and bushes, and thus can have lower yields of fruit. Many people who grow pawpaw's actually lay rotting meat underneath the tree's so more flies will come and pollinate the pawpaw blooms.

    Very interesting, I think. I don't know of any other fruit that is produced in this manner.

    You wouldn't know that the pawpaw is pollinated by blow-flies when you taste it. They are oh-so good.

    Matthew

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  2. Hi Jan,
    I don't think I've even tasted a paw paw. I always thought I wouldn't like them and wouldn't even try them. I'd much rather have potatoes.

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  3. Janet--
    Wow! First let me comment on the paw-paws, and the potatoes! I have never eaten a paw-paw and really didn't know much about them. I really enjoyed reading about them on your post. I'd love to come across a tree in the wild. I love persimmons. Oh, and the info from Matthew Burns here in the comments was really interesting too! Also, those are some HEFTY red potatoes! Will make some good eating.
    And I have to tell you, at first I didn't notice that you have gone back to my older posts and made a comment on Mogollon Rim. But I just looked at it, and find it interesting what you had to say about Zane Grey's first book, and about the woman it is about. I would LOVE to read it, and also see your picture book about her. It really sounded fascinating. I'm very much "into" history as I suppose you gathered from my early posts, and also into literature. Glad you enjoyed seeing the cabin. Thanks for "looking backwards" on my blog!

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  4. Never eaten a Pawpaw-only sung about them! But I love your big taters.

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  5. Hello. I'm with the majority. I have never had a paw-paw but I love potatoes. Potatoes are my favorite food. I can eat them any way and any time of the day!
    I did enjoy reading about the paw-paw's and potatoes.

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  6. Well, Janet I have eaten pawpaws many years ago, but after reading Matthew Burns'comment I don't think I like them any more,yuk. I still like the potatoes though.

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  7. Hello Janet. I still like paw paws. When I was very young I would go up on the hill and gather them when they were in season. I made many trips up to Keifer's knob in Wetzel county.The paw paw trees grew in a small group near the path on the way to the knob. They grew almost at the top of the woods. Just past them, an an old unused overgrown road cut a line through the trees. Beyond this road a strip of trees and brush lined the perimeter of a field. It always seemed to me those paw paw trees barely survived beneath the canopy of tree tops. But, anytime I went there in the fall I found enough paw paws to eat while there and still fill my jacket pockets, carrying a couple in my hands to take home. if they were taken too soon I'd lay them out in the sun to ripen. Anyway, just beyond the line of taller trees the field ran woward the knob. It always had a few cattle grazing. I remember being careful to know where the bull lazed when I crossed the field in order to gain the highest lookout point in the area. This we called the knob. Keifer's knob allowed a good veiw of the Ohio River valley and Paden Island near Paden City, WV.
    Also, we had a paw paw tree when we lived outside of Evans on John King hill, and I wish I'd known more about the Paw paw tree's pollinating ways, well, maybe not.

    I still like them and will eat them when I get the chance. Don't you all know potatoes will make you fat.

    Max

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  8. Max,
    So glad you got to stop by and make a comment. Liked your story about Keifer's Knob.

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  9. I haven't seen a pawpaw for years. But, I do like them. I am growing yukon gold potatoes for the first time this year. I like the little new potatoes with green beans.

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