In a world filled to the brim with apples and oranges, the first bite of a paw paw may be intimidating.
“People are a little hesitant to eat something they haven’t seen before, but usually once they try any of the fruits we grow — we don’t grow any fruits that people don’t like,” said Tim Clymer, owner of Threefold Farm in Boiling Springs.
Paw paws commonly grow in the wild and are part of the custard apple family, but their flavor isn’t as easy to classify.
“It tastes somewhat between a banana and a mango, but once you taste it, it just tastes like a paw paw,” Clymer said.
Paw paws came onto the scene around the same time as blueberries, but where blueberries could hang on in times before refrigerated trucks, paw paws couldn’t beat the heat.
“Because of a sort of notorious shelf life, it didn’t make that transition,” Clymer said.
However, in the last few years, paw paws burst onto the organic scene, and their most recent conquest is Millworks, a farm-to-table restaurant in Harrisburg known for its dedication to working with local farmers.
“It’s a native fruit to this area, so it’s an ingredient that’s been here longer than we have — probably — it’s what’s really impressive, and immediately, it was like, ‘we have to be a part of this,” said Lance Smith, executive chef of Millworks.
You won’t find paw paws in a dish unless you prefer a liquid lunch. Millworks bought Threefold Farm’s crop of paw paws to brew them into a Blonde Belgian Ale.
“It really just intensified the flavor of the fruit in this beer to create this kind of really fruity, light, drinkable ale,” Smith said.
A drinkable ale with an authentic claim to Pennsylvania roots.
“All of the ingredients in this year, except for the yeast itself, came from Pennsylvania, and that’s pretty impressive in its own right,” Smith said.
Paw paw ale can be purchased at Millworks, but be aware: supplies won’t last for long.