Pawpaw Ice Cream · GF (1 quart)

Pawpaws come into season in Kentucky from mid-August and may hang around until early October. If you’ve never had a pawpaw before, they have a nutty, custard-like flavor somewhere between a banana and a mango. Look for them in your farmers’ market; they’re ready to use when they’ve grown hideously discolored, frightfully soft, and have developed a bit of a funktastic smell. When fully ripe, you can easily squeeze the pulp right out of the skins without even using a peeler or a knife.

10 oz cream
10 oz whole milk
12 ounces of pawpaw pulp and seeds (from about 16 ounces whole fruit)
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped; seeds reserved
6 ounces egg yolks (from between 7-10 eggs, depending on size)
6 ounces sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt or more, to taste
1 ounce Rye Whiskey

optional: Jasmine syrup (recipe below)

In a medium pot, bring the dairy to a simmer together with the vanilla bean and pawpaw pulp. Stir occasionally to break up the pawpaws from their seeds, which tend to stick together. When the mixture begins to simmer, shut off the heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for 24 hours or as long as a few days. (The flavor doesn’t get any better after the initial 24 hours, but sometimes a batch of ripe pawpaws needs to get used up now even though you don’t have the time to make ice cream just yet. Just letting you know you can take your time.)

When you’re ready to proceed with the recipe, return the dairy mixture to a simmer. Meanwhile whisk together the yolks, sugar, salt, and liquor together in a medium bowl.

Have another medium bowl ready, with a mesh strainer set over it.

Once the dairy begins to simmer, strain the whole thing through the sieve (doing this while the mixture is warm is much easier than cold). Press firmly on the fruit pulp with a rubber spatula to release as much liquid as possible. It is not necessary or even desirable to press the pulp through the sieve, it has little flavor of its own left at this stage and can make the ice cream icy.

Next, fish out the vanilla bean and use a spatula to scrape out all of the heavily flavored cream from inside the pod and into the strained liquid. Discard the pawpaw pulp. (If you’re super thrifty, you could use it for muffins, following your favorite banana muffin recipe.)

Return the dairy back to the pot (no need to wash the strainer or bowl, you’ll need them again in a minute) and return it to a simmer.

Whisk some of the hot dairy mixture into the egg yolks, one ladle-full at a time, to warm the eggs. Then whisk the tempered eggs into the pot of cream; turn the heat to medium low. Stir constantly, making sure to scrape all along the bottom of the pot while to avoid allowing any of the mixture to curdle.

Continue cooking and stirring until the ice cream base thickens markedly (“coating the back of a wooden spoon” being the popular description of done-ness).

Immediately shut off the heat and strain the custard through the sieve back into the bowl.

Cool in an ice bath and refrigerate overnight. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s directions.

Jasmine syrup
6 ounces water
4 teaspoons whole leaf Jasmine tea
8 ounces sugar
1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

Bring the water to a simmer and steep the jasmine in it for 5 minutes; strain. In a small sauce pot, whisk together the tea, sugar, and salt. Cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has completely dissolved. Cool and then refrigerate until cold, it will keep for as long as a week.

Serve drizzled over the pawpaw ice cream, with a touch of barely sweetened whipped cream on the side.


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Any questions?

Sep 07, 2011 ·  4:40 AM

I have never had pawpaw before but it sounds quite interesting and from how you describe it quite horrible!!! Ill have to see if they have it around here, Im so intrigued!

 · Beth Michelle ·

Sep 07, 2011 · 12:14 PM

@Beth Michelle, If you click on the pawpaw link at the beginning of the recipe, you can find a map of their growing region. They seem to be confined to North America, however. I don’t know if any have made it overseas…


Sep 27, 2011 ·  9:43 PM

Informative post thanks. I wonder if you’ve ever had a perfectly ripe and tasty one?

 · gil ·

Sep 29, 2011 ·  9:52 PM

@Gil, I definitely have. I’m just not wild about their texture. I’m kinda funny that way with certain fruits. But the flavor of the pawpaw is a thing of beauty, isn’t it? Pawpaw season has concluded here in Kentucky, are they still lingering about wherever you are?


Oct 05, 2011 ·  1:09 AM

Paw Paw have well and truly made it over to Australia. Not sure about Israel where @BethMichelle is though, as they’re a tropical plant.

 · Melinda ·

Oct 06, 2011 · 10:47 AM

@Melinda, oh my goodness!! All the way to Australia?! I’m so surprised and impressed, that’s awesome. Thanks for the inside scoop! When do they come in season down under?


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