Where can I get fresh pawpaw fruit near Chicago?
September 6, 2020 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find/buy/steal a couple of pawpaws in the greater Chicago area this season? Within 20 miles of the loop preferred, but I'm open to traveling farther if need be.

I've tried web searches, several foraging/freegan databases, and a few hours of naively stumbling through local neighborhoods and parks without luck, aside from finding old references to farmers markets that don't exist at the moment.
posted by eotvos to Food & Drink (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Did you try Wagner Farm in Glenview? They have lots of unusual fruits and veggies and a farmers market.
posted by Jason and Laszlo at 8:52 AM on September 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


This is a long shot, but the only place I've ever seen them used in Chicago is at Big Jones restaurant on Clark street. Perhaps call the owner or head chef and ask if they know of a source?
posted by Tchad at 11:45 AM on September 6, 2020 [1 favorite]


I know where you can find them growing wild about 90 miles from Chicago, but I'm not telling where. Also, they're not ripe here yet, and probably won't be for a couple more weeks.

They're very hard to find available through commercial channels, because they're ripe for approximately 15 minutes before they spoil. So unless you have a very local supplier, you're probably not going to find them for sale.

If you want to try your hand at finding them growing wild, they tend to grow in the understory of wooded slopes above rivers, creeks, and ravines. Look for the characteristic leaves (they're very large, unmistakable once you get a feel for them) and then peek up to see if you can spot fruits. Good luck finding fruits that are low enough to reach.
posted by spamloaf at 12:05 PM on September 6, 2020 [2 favorites]


If you are not stuck absolutely on paw-paw, maybe try a search for papaya. It's the same species. Lots of Thai restaurants use them in salads and must have a local supplier.

The difference between pawpaw and papaya.
posted by Thella at 2:16 PM on September 6, 2020


Papayas and pawpaws are different animals. Pawpaws are more like cherimoya/sugar apple than like papaya.

https://www.seriouseats.com/2014/09/what-are-pawpaws-wild-fruit-midwest-how-to-prep-and-eat-pawpaws.html

posted by Don Pepino at 6:20 PM on September 6, 2020 [1 favorite]


(The usage of "pawpaw" is different in different parts of the world, but in the US it usually refers to asimina triloba.)

I know I bought them each fall at the Bloomington, IN Farmers' Market when I lived there some years ago, and it does appear to be operating. But that's a bit of a schlep for you and they were highly seasonal. My recollection is that they appeared in late September or early October, so you might be too early for them still.
posted by Johnny Assay at 7:19 PM on September 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


Well after digging into the comments on the Serious Eats article that Don Pepino referenced (and having quadrupled my knowledge of pawpaws in just a few minutes), I found that there's a farmer named Oriana who grows and sells pawpaws in the Chicago area. Contact her or check Green City Market.
posted by hydra77 at 7:21 PM on September 6, 2020 [3 favorites]


Papayas and pawpaws are different animals. Pawpaws are more like cherimoya/sugar apple than like papaya.

Yes. I was thinking of paw paw. Different spelling, different fruit.
posted by Thella at 8:05 PM on September 12, 2020 [1 favorite]


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