Cut open the pawpaws and scoop out the flesh. Remove the seeds and mash the pulp using a fork or blender until smooth.
Measure 5 cups of pawpaw pulp and transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the granulated sugar to the bowl and mix well until the sugar is fully incorporated into the pawpaw pulp.
Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to sit for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld.
Transfer the pawpaw mixture to a large saucepan or Dutch oven.
Place the saucepan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a gentle boil while stirring constantly.
Reduce the heat to low and let the jam simmer, stirring occasionally, until it thickens and achieves a jam-like consistency.
To test if the jam is ready, place a small amount on a chilled plate. If it thickens and wrinkles slightly when pushed with a finger, it's done.
Remove the saucepan from heat and let the jam cool slightly.
Pawpaws (Asimina triloba) are the largest tropical fruit native to the Eastern United States. They grow on trees and ripen in the early Autumn months. Pawpaws have a custard-like texture and a sweet, tropical flavor reminiscent of bananas or mangoes (and sometimes lemon or crème brûlée). The fruit itself is green on the outside and yellow on the inside, with a few large black seeds in the middle. Pawpaws are often used in desserts, such as pies and ice cream, but their versatility extends into all kinds of culinary traditions. Despite being relatively unknown in mainstream markets, pawpaws are gaining popularity as more people discover their unique taste and versatility in various dishes.
Pawpaws have a unique, tropical taste that is often compared to a blend of banana, mango, and sometimes papaya. They can be as sweet as crème brûlée or as fruity as a lemon. The flesh of a ripe pawpaw is custard-like with a creamy texture and a hint of sweetness.The flavor of wild and cultivated pawpaws can vary greatly from variety to variety, but they always taste tropical, sweet, and complex.
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