The Potential of Pawpaw Fruit

The fruit of the pawpaw tree has vast potential. You can eat pawpaw raw or use it in baked goods, ice cream, yogurts, juices, jams and many other foods.

Pawpaw pulp contains similar health-promoting phytochemicals as red grapes, red wine, cranberries and chocolate, according to a 2013 study conducted at Ohio University. The phytochemicals, termed procyanidins, have been shown to have a positive correlation with reduction of coronary heart disease and mortality.(Source: Institute of Food Technologists Annual Meeting, Chicago, IL 2013.)

The fruit was once a part of American Indians’ diet long before white settlers arrived; however, as far as consumer opinion goes at this time, pawpaw is in the infancy stage.

Some are of the opinion pawpaw will become a standard part of our American diet. We even have here in America now, a PawPaw Foundation. Growers of the Pawpaw tree dream of someday supplying more than a niche market but they also face some problems.

Right now, there are not enough growers of pawpaw to produce the volume necessary for big outlets to sell pawpaw to consumers.

Wal-Mart and Ocean Spray have both expressed an interest in selling Pawpaw to their consumers if they were sure of an ample supply.

Another difficulty Pawpaw producer’s face is the short shelf life of the fruit. Pawpaw’s only last about two or three days at the most, making it difficult to get the fruit to the markets while it is still nice and fresh.

If refrigerated, Pawpaw will keep up to three weeks; however, researchers are now trying to develop varieties that last longer to over come the transport problem.

In spite of all these current road blocks, pawpaw could easily join vegetables, berries and grapes as an alternative for tobacco farmers struggling with steep production cuts as the federal government shrinks quotas and takes over their market. Orchards could spring up on small plots once used to grow tobacco, but farmers are not encouraged to expect the same financial returns. Papaw would have to be one of many crops to help alleviate the problem.

Popularizing PawPaw

A restaurant in Kentucky that has begun serving Papaw claim the response has been great from a flavor standpoint. Many customers are inquiring as to where they can find the fruit for purchase.

Kentucky State University and the PawPaw Foundation are now trying to attract more growers to expand the market of the fruit. Keep your eyes open — there may be a “new” fruit on the market soon if the Papaw growers can get a productive market going for it.

pawpaw superfruit chart

Source of chart: Pawpaw Foundation Newsletter.


One major caution should be noted – don’t ever eat pawpaw fruit leathers. The process of heating and concentrating pulp in an acid environment create a hazard that causes nausea and vomiting.

Read More: Food Facts