Pawpaw fruit - when is it ripe ?

bluesky_girl(Z6a)July 12, 2008

This year I finally got fruit on my pawpaw trees. They are about 7 years old and though they've had flowers for 3 years now in the spring, no fruit. But this year, I have fruit!!!

Now the question is - when do I pick it? They are about 3-4 inches long and green and hard. Does the fruit get soft, turn color, what?

Thanks for any info.


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bonsaist(Z6/ Bethlehem, Pa)

Pawpaw is usually ripe towards the ending of september depending where you live, some varieties don't ripen until october. For the best flavor leave it on the tree until it softens, it may turn light green, or orangy color depends on the variety when ripe. I'm guessing you have a seedling.
Don't let it turn brown, eat it within a day or two after being picked.
You'll notice the fruit gets a bit soft when ready. you may pick it then or let it drop to the ground on its own.


    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 9:50AM
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My father's old saw was after they were hit by the first frost. If you pick them too soon, they'll go from green to rotten without passing ripe. When they're ripe, they go from green to yellow, and I can "feel" when it's right as they soften a little like a pear does. Then the flesh should be sort of like a banana. In our area, Appalachian Ohio, you won't be picking Paw Paw until late September or October.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 9:51AM
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They ripen here way before the first frost and are gone entirely a month before frost. They fall easily when ripe. Gently shake the tree if the ground is soft beneath it and the ripe ones will fall. Or just barely tug on them while wiggling sideways a bit to see if they detach easily.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 10:50AM
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That is just a real good point to bring up. You can't go by the calender. You will be harvesting yours a lot sooner than we will be harvesting ours. All the more reason to be able to tell when they are ripe. The first year is always the hardest. Once you do it, you'll get a feel for when is 'just right'.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 4:20PM
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hemnancy(z8 PNW)

I was asking this question last year, then the next day I went out to look at the Paw Paws and they were all gone! No, they were all on the ground. That's how I could tell...

    Bookmark   July 12, 2008 at 6:47PM
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The other item I forgot to mention is they become a bit aromatic when they ripen, but you'd have to put your nose right up to them.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2008 at 10:26AM
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softmentor(z9/sunset13 CA desert)

from what I understand MOST varieties do not turn color. They should start to soften a little. test the softness like you would a peach or mango

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 3:28AM
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They change color (here anyway) but the difference is subtle and the color is never bright and distinctive even when fully ripe. Thus, as you recommend, use another characteristic.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 7:15PM
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Yes, they change here too. Softmentor, your's dont?

    Bookmark   July 15, 2008 at 8:07PM
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Thanks for all the great advice. Yes - these trees grew from seedlings - not any named cultivars. I got them from the Missouri State nursery way back, in a variety bundle they had for home gardeners. I was beginning to think they were all genetically the same so no fruit possible, so this is especially welcome. I'll keep watching them.

Another question - do the trees sucker a lot? There seems to be a small forest growing around the two original trees. I'm thinking of moving some of the smaller ones this fall and removing the rest to get some sun back in that area.


    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 9:03AM
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They commonly rootsprout in the wild, though mine at home have not. The sprouts are notoriously difficult to transplant, but that is probably because people treat them as if they were easily transplanted. They don't come with many roots. As importantly, they (unlike most deciduous plants) don't grow roots in the winter. They are better transplanted in very late winter, not long before they will bud out. And treat them more like big cuttings rather than transplanted plants. Shade, good soil, moist. I'd start them in big pots for a recovery and grow-some-roots year in a partially shaded location.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2008 at 11:52AM
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This may help clarify the color discussion above:

The outside of the pawpaw fruit does not change much from its original green when it becomes ripe.

The inside of the fruit, however, turns a golden orange-yellow when ripe, similar to ripe mango.

Beware that ripe fruit can rather quickly become over-ripe; when it does, the outside goes from green straight to black. (It doesn't turn yellow like a banana.)

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 7:46PM
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I just checked by two pawpaw trees, which had fruit for the first time this year. Tree #1 had a few fruits on it a couple weeks ago, but, now they have disappeared - didn't see them on the ground. Squirrels or ground hog? There was fruit on tree #2, so I picked one, which released quite easily, but doesn't feel ripe. I guess I'll wait a couple days and see if it ripens.

I know this is an old thread, but I appreciated the info that I found.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2013 at 5:08PM
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I have wild paw paws in our woods. It is always a race to pick them before the deer eat them. The deer can smell and eat them before they are completely ripe; therefore, how soon can we pick them and still have them ripen for eating?

Can a paw paw fruit ripen like a peach or pear after picking?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 11:15AM
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One additional question. Previous answers about propagation related to transplanting root sprouts; however, the seeds must not be overlooked since each fruit has so many. I have a theory that in the wild the deer eat the fruit and the seeds are activated by passing through the alimentary tract after which they are subsequently deposited onto the ground surrounded by wonderful fertilizer. Hence, patches of paw paws can be found in nonadjacent area of a woods where a rooting source is impossible. Therefore, is my theory correct?

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 11:34AM
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Yes pawpaw will ripen inside like a tomato, apple etc. The longer you leave them on the tree the better the flavor. My family Grows upland and lowland wild pawpaws and they all ripen at different times and different patches ripen at different times but all in September or early October. I can grow upland only in Kansas and they get 3 inches at best. Lowland pawpaws that grow around spring water or creeks and in micro climates between hills aka hollows grow to 7-8 inches on my families property. They all go from dark green to lighter green or yellow that I've seen and eventually turn black much like a banana hence the name Missouri banana. The trees my family has are big and if the pawpaws fall from the tree the fruit splits on impact even on soft leaves. The trees are 20' or taller and the fruits are over a pound so you wind up with leaves etc smashed in your papaw on one side. A picking stick is a much better way to go.

Here is a link that might be useful: Fruit picker aka picking stick

This post was edited by ClarkinKS on Sat, Sep 6, 14 at 11:57

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 11:52AM
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Has anyone of you succesfully espaliered a Pawpaw tree. I am thinking of adding a Pawpaw to my small backyard orchard but there is no room for a standard tree. I appreciate your comments. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 6, 2014 at 1:35PM
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persimmons(6b Southern Mass)

ben1941: I am to be receiving at least 15 pawpaw seeds in the mail soon, and will begin growing them the following season. I'll try espaliering one of the trees against a fence! It stands to reason that if you selectively train the branches, you should be able to espalier any upright, "orchard" tree.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 11:49AM
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I found this link by searching "When is Paw-Paw fruit ripe". I have learned a lot from the answers. I have one question that someone knows the answer to. How do I preserve the fruit. Canning would be my first choice. Thanks in advance. We are tickled pink to have 2 fruit this year after waiting over 6 years.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 2:12PM
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Bradybb WA-Zone8

Pawpaw pulp can be frozen. Brady

Here is a link that might be useful: Freezing Pawpaw Pulp

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 3:04PM
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Thanks Brady. I'll share that with the boss. David

    Bookmark   September 21, 2014 at 3:12PM
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Thanks for the responses to my ripening question. Because the deer on our property eat the pawpaws before we can harvest them when they are ripe on the trees, I foxed them out and picked 62 when they were still green. Because they must give off ethylene oxide when ripening, I placed them into an insulated cooler to concentrate the off gas. The pawpaws ripened very nicely and I have been eating about 5-6/day. We have allowed the deer to eat them for 25 years but now that I know how to ripen them the future ones are all for our family.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2014 at 8:02PM
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