Tired of Apples? Pick These Exotic Fall Fruits Instead

Here’s where to find pawpaws, persimmons and other unusual fruits in the wild

(Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons )
smithsonian.com

The air is getting crisper, the leaves are turning colors and pumpkin flavors are invading every conceivable food. Yes, autumn is here.

Even after experiencing the hottest summer on record, there are places in the United States that are still feeling the heat. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from enjoying one of the best things about fall — the fruit.

Forget apples and pumpkins: A plethora of more unusual options ripen just as the leaves turn. (Yes, pumpkins are indeed fruits, as are squash, cucumbers and beans.) From succulent white sapotes to pleasurable pawpaws, here’s where to find six exotic fall fruits:

Pawpaw

The pulpy pawpaw may seem like it comes from the South American tropics. It doesn’t. The pawpaw actually grows wild along the riverbeds and in the forests of the eastern United States.

Reportedly Thomas Jefferson’s favorite fruit, the oblong-shaped pawpaw turns yellow when ripe and can have dark flecks. Though the fruit is sometimes called the “poor man's banana” due to its somewhat similar appearance, there is nothing poor about the pawpaw. It grows in 26 states across the country (from New York to Nebraska), but is hard to find and exceedingly rare.

The pawpaw’s taste is best compared to toasted custard mixed with mango and banana. Pawpaws are so delicious that experts agree the best way to consume them is by picking the fruit straight from the tree, scooping out the inside and eating it raw. Word to the wise, though — avoid the skin and seeds, which are known to cause intestinal issues.

The pawpaw starts to ripen in late summer and is best picked between late September and October. 

About Matt Blitz

Matt Blitz is a history and travel writer. His work has been featured on CNN, Atlas Obscura, Curbed, Nickelodeon, and Today I Found Out. He also runs the Obscura Society DC and is a big fan of diners.

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