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Pawpaws


When I was a kid in Louisiana we used to sing a song about picking up pawpaws and putting them in the basket, "way down yonder in the paw-paw patch." For years and years I couldn't read or hear the word "pawpaw" without thinking of that song. Then Tom Blaisedale poured me a glass of pawpaw wine and, as they say, life changed. Tom never shared his recipe with me, but he did give me enough hints that I could develop my own.

The pawpaw (Asimina triloba), also spelled papaw and paw-paw, is a Southern and Eastern shrub or small tree growing 10 to 40 feet high. The dwarf pawpaw (Asimina parviflora) seldom reaches 8 feet. Pawpaw flowers appear in spring along stems from the previous year. They have 3 sepals and 6 thick, almost rounded petals draped in a bell-shape about an inch long and wide. The flowers are green and turn deep purple. From these form cylindrical, long, irregular-shaped, aromatic fruit. They are green, turn yellow, and then black as they ripen in late summer or early autumn. The fruit's flesh is sweet and tasty, much like a banana's, and is a real delicacy raw or cooked into puddings, breads, and ice cream. The taste disagrees with some people and the skins and seeds are not considered edible. The fruit are picked green and stored in a cool place until they ripen, or picked when ripe if wildlife allows it.

Pawpaw makes an excellent dry, white wine. It can be made from fresh or canned fruit.


PAWPAW WINE (1)



Put water on to boil. Meanwhile, peel the fruit and cut into pieces. Put fruit in nylon straining bag, tie closed, and place bag in primary. Mash fruit in bag, pour sugar over fruit and, when boiling, pour water over that. Cover primary and set aside to cool. When room temperature, add all ingredients except yeast. Recover and set aside 12 hours. Add yeast. When the must is fermenting vigorously, stir twice daily for 7 days. Drain bag and squeeze gently to extract most juice and flavor, then transfer juice to secondary. Fit airlock and set aside for 2 months. Rack into sterilized secondary, top up and refit airlock. Rack again after 3 months, top up and refit airlock. Check wine for clarity after additional 3 months. If wine has not cleared, fine with gelatin, wait two weeks, and rack into bottles. Age additional 6-12 months. [Author's own recipe]


PAWPAW WINE (2)



Put water on to boil. Meanwhile, put fruit in nylon straining bag, tie closed, and place bag in primary. Mash fruit in bag, pour sugar over fruit and, when water boils, pour it over that. Cover primary and set aside to cool. When room temperature, add all ingredients except yeast. Recover and set aside 12 hours. Add yeast. When the must is fermenting vigorously, stir twice daily for 5 days. Drain bag and squeeze gently to extract most juice and flavor, then transfer juice to secondary. Fit airlock and set aside for 2 months. Rack into sterilized secondary, top up and refit airlock. Rack again after 3 months, top up and refit airlock. Check wine for clarity after additional 3 months. If wine has not cleared, fine with gelatin, wait two weeks, and rack into bottles. Age additional 6-12 months. [Adapted from Leo Zanelli's Home Winemaking from A to Z]



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This page was updated on November 2nd, 2000.