Look in the center of this photo. See the green potato looking object hanging there ? This is a paw paw. Notice the large leaves of the tree. These turn a brilliant yellow and are quite easy to see in the timber. Large fans of gold. Last year's crop was better. More paw paws and larger fruit. I had piles of green orbs ripening in the kitchen. Leafing through cook books left me with few recipes to try. I came up with this version of a panna cotta. To keep the taste of the fruit, I found was best attained by using it raw. I wrote this recipe on the 28th of October of 2008. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
Paw Paw Panna Cotta
yield 6 servings
1 teaspoon unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups heavy cream ( I used Shatto cream from a local dairy)
1 1/2 cups plain kefir ( or use plain yogurt)
1/3 cup honey
1 cup paw paw fruit ( read note at bottom about getting the pulp out of the fruit)
1. Place 1 1/2 tablespoons cold water in a small bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Let the gelatin soften for five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a saucepan over low heat, warm the cream, kefir ( or yogurt ), and honey. In a blender ( I use a Vita Mix blender , though any will work ) place this warmed mixture and the 1 cup of paw paw pulp. Blend til mixture is smooth.
3. Pour the dissolved gelatin in water into the blender with the mixture. Blend this for a bit.
4. Pour this into six 8 ounce serving bowls or ramekins. Cover each with plastic wrap and chill until firm.
Note: For those of you not familiar with how to skin a paw paw once you have foraged for them in the woods, begin by cutting the skin off of each with a knife. A paw paw is ripe when it is a bit soft to the touch. It will still be green in color. As it ripens it will turn a dark brown and become very soft. Still edible though in this state. In this recipe, it is best to use fruit that is still green and just soft to the touch. While you have the skinned paw paw in hand, cut away the pale yellow pulp from the center mass which is mostly large dark brown seeds the size of large lima beans. Most of the usable pulp is between the green skin and this mass of seeds. The seeds themselves are toxic if eaten so I don't scrape the bits of pulp that cling to the seeds. Thus said, Rhett and I both sucked on the seeds last fall to get off every bit of luscious flavor and survived without incident. It was in later research that I learned the seeds are toxic to wildlife. Larger paw paws have more pulp , of course. It will depend on the size of your paw paws to determine how many it will take to get one cup of pulp for this recipe.
This is a photo of part of last year's haul from the timber.
Paw Paw pulp stains clothes, so plan your attire accordingly when headed to the timber in search of this fruit.