Thursday, October 27, 2011

Paw Paw *

A fruit named, seemingly, for another fruit.

I have two examples of Paw Paw, and while the one in my photo is less round and more blushed, both are medium-sized apples with a streaky red blush and many large light lenticels.

The red streaks are deep and dark in places, a quality my camera just will not capture. The peel has a glossy finish and the unblushed part is spring green.

The flesh of one sample is dense and fine grained, white noticeably tinted with green. It's crisp, nearly breaking, and is mild and well-balanced with no acidity.

Even though Paw Paw's individual flavors are generic and indistinct--some floral qualities and spice, perhaps, and the tastes brush up against vinous teritory--this apple is very good, if a bit chewy at the end, and I'd go for it again.

There's also something that is a little like very sweet corn--a very wholesome flavor. Paw Paw leaves a fleeting astringent finish in its wake that is very nice.

The other sample--the one in the photo--proved to be a bit past its prime, with fuller flavors and softer textures, the flesh a light yellow. Its possible that my first sample was slightly early; you'll just have to imagine a continuum with the ideal between the two.

Paw Paw is named for the Michigan town of its origin (not the Paw Paw fruit) and was also known as the Ball Apple, the Rubicon, and the Western Baldwin. This last locates the apple, or at least the name, during Baldwin's reign as America's premier apple. It is pleasant to enjoy the tastes of bygone times.

In 1774 the State Pomological Society of Michigan published an account of the origin of this apple (scroll two-thirds of the way through).

The Society, after consulting its Committee on Nomenclature, voted to call this variety "Rubicon," but this solumn decision has not endured. So fleet the works of men.


  1. Wow interesting story. It's good to hear there are other states with some rich Apple history. I'm trying an unnamed seedling fruit on Tuesday that is in production at a friends mark ,but is definitely something similar in look to paw paw, but ripens around Oct 15-20 and keeps well. I'll have plenty of these to share, but I know your tastes are similar to mine with respect to boring overly sweet apples(honeys, etc) but I think this one should be something good.

  2. Would it be possible to get some scion wood of this variety? I am collecting old Michigan apple varieties.


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