NCF Logo
Paw Paw Ice Cream
Click here to see a ready-to-eat Paw Paw

The common Paw Paw (Asimina triloba) grows wild in the woods around Nettle Creek Farm. A medium sized understory tree with palm like leaves, the Paw Paw produces a creamy custard-like fruit that is essentially a temperate mango, tasting of a cross between a mango and a banana with some say, a hint of tropical melon, coconut and strawberry tossed in. In fact, it is North America’s largest native fruit. There is even an annual Ohio Paw Paw Festival honoring this unique treat!

There are many and varied stories ranging from how Paw Paw seeds were originally spread by Mastadons across North America, to how they were prized by early Native Americans, how they were adored by Thomas Jefferson & George Washington, and even how Lewis & Clark grew fond of the fruit along their infamous journey in the 1800s.  Who knew that here in Appalachia they make a unique and wonderful homemade ice cream?

In south central Virginia, Paw Paw ripen in mid-September. The fruit, grown on trees that form spreading clonal mats, produce biennial fruits that fall to the ground when ripe. But, you have to be quick to pounce on the ripe fruit before the bears, opossums, and raccoons! To beat these critters to these tasty treats, we tend to cheat just a bit here at Nettle Creek Farm…we shake the trunks and branches of the Paw Paw trees every week during the month of September to see what ripe treasures fall to the ground. It is the only sure fire way to be first in Mother Nature’s cafeteria line!

The ripe fruit is peeled and the ubiquitous seeds removed from the succulent yellow-colored flesh. Once you have completed this task, you are ready to make your first batch of fresh VA Paw Paw Ice Cream!


1-1/3 pounds of Paw Paw flesh (peeled and seeded) – about 4-5 large fruits
cup water
cup sugar
cup sour cream
1 cup heavy cream
tsp vanilla extract
A few drops freshly squeezed lemon juice

Combine fruit and water in nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, stir until heated through, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add sugar & lemon juice. Stir well to combine. Puree the cooked Paw Paw with the rest of the ingredients until smooth, chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator, process in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. This recipe yields about one quart of ice cream.            (Adapted from The Perfect Scoop, by David Lebovits, Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 2007)