One of the best tricks I learned in 2019 came by way of author & forager Sara Bir. If you have pawpaws aplenty, and not enough time to use them right away, freeze them whole!
That’s right, just popped the whole fruit into a freezer bag and save it for later.
In addition to being a quick way to preserve the harvest, this hack also makes the pawpaws easier to process. Once they are frozen solid, they are easier to handle while peeling and paring away the fruit and prying out the seeds. I mean, as long as you can tolerate holding the frozen fruit! I had to take several breaks so my skin could return to its normal temperature.
This recipe is for “nice” cream, which means a vegan (aka dairy and egg free) recipe. Pawpaw lends itself nicely to this approach, because its flavor and texture already suggest custardy confections. This recipe is super simple, with just four ingredients: pawpaws, bananas, lemon juice (to preserve color and enhance the flavor) and nut milk if desired / needed.
Pawpaw Nice Cream Recipe
1.5 lbs frozen pawpaws – approximately 1 pound peeled and seeded, or about 2 cups
1 large very ripe banana, frozen if desired
2 Tbs lemon juice
1/4 c nut milk of choice, optional (I used hazelnut milk)
Place all ingredients in food processor, and process until it forms a smooth puree. Add nut milk a few tablespoons at a time if the frozen pawpaws and banana are too thick for the food processor to work effectively. Bear in mind that the nut milk will slightly mute the flavor of the nice cream. Pour into a freezer-safe container, and freeze for at least 5 hours.
You can simulate the “churn” of an ice cream maker, even if you don’t have one. This helps break up ice crystals as they form, producing a creamier and more airy result. For this approach, put the bowl of food processor in freezer for roughly 30 minutes, then pulse ingredients again. Repeat every 30 minutes or so until you are happy with the texture and frozen-ness of the nice cream.
If you start with a frozen banana, it may take less time to freeze everything thoroughly, but it may be harder for your food processor to handle. (Mine’s rather puny, so I didn’t risk it.)
Also, foods generally taste less sweet once frozen, so if the puree seems overpowering initially rest assured that the flavor will mellow as it gets colder.
Since wild-foraged pawpaws have unique and individual flavors, this nice cream will never taste the same way twice! You can also mix it up to highlight different flavors, for instance by adding another banana, or using 1/4 cup pineapple juice rather than nut milk. Adding vanilla extract is another option as well.
What’s your favorite use for pawpaws, frozen or otherwise?