For folks in the Midwest and eastern U.S., pawpaws should be getting ripe about now. That makes this the perfect time for an end-of-summer ice cream social featuring North America's largest tropical fruit.
What's a pawpaw? The question pops up often when I talk about the large fruit and what you can do with it. It seems time has forgotten what was once a celebrated wild food. The pawpaw is tropical in appearance, often measuring several inches across. Pawpaw trees grow most often along shaded stream banks, but groves of them can pop up anywhere in mixed hardwoods.
The fruit has the consistancy of a ripe banana, and tastes a lot like a banana/mango cross. Look for pawpaws that have splotchy brown skin and a soft feel that gives a bit when you press on them with your thumb. Like bananas, the pawpaw tends to get sweeter the riper the fruit. To prep the pawpaw, simply scoop the flesh from the skin with a spoon, then pick out the large seeds.
This ice cream recipe uses raw eggs, so the mixture gets heated to guard against salmonella, but make sure you chill it back down before adding it to your ice cream maker. Our ice cream maker can use both electric and hand crank propulsion, so we always do a bit of both for old-time ice cream making fun.
3 large pawpaws, peeled, seeded, and smashed into pulp
1 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 can sweetened condenced milk
3 cans evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole milk
1 cup half and half or heavy cream
large bag of ice
3 cups rock salt
6 quaurt ice cream maker
Combine pawpaw and the next eight ingredients in a large pan. Slowly heat the mixture to 160 degrees (a candy or instant-read thermometer comes in handy for this step) to make the eggs safe. Remove the mixture from the heat and chill for one to two hours to overnight to chill mixture.
Follow the instructions on your ice cream maker. For ours, we pour the mixture into the ice cream tub, place the lid on, then layer ice and rock salt to the top of the tub. Using either the hand crank or electric motor, churn the ice cream until thickened.
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