Every province is unique in one way or another - from their culture to their accent, and especially, their food. Across Canada, there are some secret delicacies you can only find in certain places, like Nova Scotia's moon mist ice cream, or Newfoundland's Screech.
But Ontario has its own secret food they've been hiding from the rest of the country. The pawpaw is a super unique tropical fruit that's actually native to Ontario and it looks weirdly delicious.
First edible pawpaw of the season. Thank you, Lord. pic.twitter.com/gp1B3xl7TF— Kristy Horine (@Kwriteone) September 4, 2018
Grown in the Lake Erie and Niagara regions of Ontario, as well as some parts of the United States and occasionally in other provinces, the pawpaw is a tropical fruit that looks like a mango and allegedly tastes like a banana. It is also North America's largest native fruit.
Known by its scientific name, Asimina Triloba, the tropical fruit got its more common and unique name the pawpaw from the Spanish word papaya, most likely based on the fruits similar appearances. The fruit also goes by other names, like the Michigan Banana, the poor man's banana, and a hill-billy mango.
Pawpaws are grown on trees, which look super tropical with their long, 30-centimetre leaves, bright red flowers which bloom in the spring, and palm tree-like bark. The pawpaw fruit itself grows over the summer and in September it falls off the tree onto the ground when it's ready to be harvested.
Pleasantly surprised to see #Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) thriving in #NovaScotia, #Canada. Also known as hillbilly mango, this fruit reminds me of a mashup of banana-mango-pear #urbanforest #edibleforest #tree pic.twitter.com/bZn3hhuxBa— Stephen Cushing (@spcushing) August 23, 2018
Since it's a fall fruit, now is the perfect time to try a pawpaw as they will be ripe and ready for harvesting. But, if you're not sure just how to eat this weirdly unique fruit, some Twitter users have stepped in to help.
People excited about the start of pawpaw season have taken to the social media site to share what they have done with their tropical fruit, from making pawpaw bread to blending it up in a smoothie.
As far as nutrition goes, pawpaws are actually super healthy for you. A study was done on the fruit at Kentucky State University, another area where pawpaws are native to, and they found that the fruit is high in Vitamin C, Magnesium, and Iron.
The fruit also is a good source of other vitamins and minerals like Calcium and Zinc. According to the study, each piece only has about 80 calories, making it a really healthy and guilt-free snack.
Its Pawpaw (Asimina triloba) season in SW Ohio and @MiamiRegionals. This native fruit is coveted by mammals and humans alike. The leaves of this native tree are the only food source for our native Zebra swallowtail butterfly (Eurytides marcellus). pic.twitter.com/rs2w2Gboo4— The Conservatory (@MURConservatory) September 10, 2018
If your looking to get your hands on some pawpaw, local farmers and markets could be your best chance. Forbes Wild Foods, a Toronto-based forager has been known to sell them in the past.
Another option is to go foraging yourself, a popular choice for pawpaw aficionados in both Canada and the US. Since the fruit is less well-known, not many stores will sell it. But, if there are some wild trees in your area, you could luck out.
scenes from pawpaw foraging pic.twitter.com/xdJNZS2tat— alex duner (@asduner) September 2, 2018
If you're not the type to go wandering through the wilderness in search of tropical fruit, the Ontario government has also offered some helpful tips for growing your own right in your backyard.
The best time to plant pawpaw trees is in the spring. The trees thrive in rich, moist soil and in shady areas. But, if you are going to plant one, make sure you have lots of room because pawpaw trees can grow up to 10 meters tall.
Another thing to keep in mind if you're growing your own pawpaw tree is that you're going to need some beetles. Unlike a lot of other fruits and vegetables that are pollinated by bees, pawpaws are actually pollinated by beetles.
One Ontario expert is such a big fan of the fruit that he helped launch the Project Pawpaw a few years ago to encourage more people to grow it. Now, thanks to his efforts as well as other pawpaw enthusiasts sharing their pics online, the weird Canadian fruit is making a comeback.