Go Cuckoo for Pawpaw, Ohio’s Native Fruit

Integration Acres Pawpaw Spiceberry Jam

Is that an oversized pear or a green potato? Neither; it’s a pawpaw, North America’s largest edible fruit. Despite its long history and creamy, banana-flavored pit, the pawpaw has only recently received its due-it was named Ohio’s state native fruit in 2009-thanks, in part, to the annual Ohio PawPaw Festival, whose 16th gathering will be held at Lake Snowden from Sept. 12 to 14. We’ve rounded up the sweetest ways to enjoy this faux-tropical fruit, which grows bountifully across southern Ohio in late summer and early fall.

Brothers Drake Meadery Sour Paw Paw True to its name, this mix of pawpaw, spicebush berries and wildflower honey is bound to make your lips pucker. “Anyone who likes sour beer is going to love it,” co-owner Sarah Benary says of the mead. $9/glass, $30/bottle, Brothers Drake Meadery, 26 E. Fifth Ave., Short North, 614-388-8765, brothersdrake.com

Jackie O’s Paw Paw Wheat Don’t let the banana and mango notes in this limited-release beer fool you; it’s an imperial ale with a 9 percent ABV. $5.99/bottle, The Hills Market Downtown, 95 N. Grant Ave., 614-702-7900, thehillsmarket.com

Integration Acres Pawpaw Spiceberry Jam Farm-grown spicebush berries are dried and blended with pawpaw pulp in this jam Integration Acres owner Chris Chmiel recommends spreading on crackers, sandwiches and even cakes. $6.50,integrationacres.com

For a facial treatment you’d just as well eat, visit the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls. The Logan resort offers a seasonal pawpaw facial ($85, Monday through Thursday; $90, Friday through Sunday)-made from an original mixture of Ohio pawpaw, oats, honey and yogurt-that comes with a 25-minute head, neck and shoulders massage. “It’s good for first-timers and for people with mild, sensitive skin,” says assistant innkeeper Nicole McCabe. “Pawpaw is not a very acidic fruit, so [the facial is] not overly tingly or astringent.” innatcedarfalls.com

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