CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) -Most people have no idea Ohio has an official native fruit, let alone it’s the pawpaw.
The fruit which is mainly in southern Ohio, is pretty hard to find and in season mid-to-late September.
It’s called a pawpaw because when you cut them open, the black seeds inside resemble an animals paw.
The ice cream and popcorn shop Popped! in Kent has become known for the fruit because the owners grow, sell and and turn them into pawpaw ice cream.
“Introducing people to Ohio’s only indigenous fruit is always fun!” Gwen Rosenberg, owner of Popped! said. “Reactions usually vary from curious and “love at first taste” to skepticism.”
The taste is almost always described as the texture of a banana but the taste of a mango.
“They are pretty rare,” Rosenberg said who has a dozen of the fruit tree in her backyard. “We have a lot of people make a special trip to Popped! just to pick up some paw paws once we announce we have them. The rarity is part of what make them special.”
While a little larger than an orange, another reason people may not have tasted them, is according to Rosenberg, you have one day to eat them when they are ripe.
“They have to be enjoyed within a day of ripening or the flavor can become less tropical and more astringent. A perfectly ripe paw paw is such a treat, it changes your whole attitude about what Ohio grown fruit can be,” Rosenberg said.
There is even an Ohio Pawpaw Fest held every year in Lake Snowden and Albany.
This year will mark the 21st year for the festival that runs September 13-14.