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Re: [penn-permaculture] Fwd: pawpaw toxicity

From: Josh H.
Sent on: Friday, November 1, 2013 3:06 PM
The bacterial explanation is maybe part of the answer...

But what seems more immediately likely to me, given the fact that KSU mentions the possibility of compound(s) being a root cause and also given that they know Jerry McLaughlin, is that acetogenins, a class of waxy polyketide natural products found in pawpaw (and more generally in much of the soursop and laurel plant families) known better for their insecticidal and anti-cancer properties, are the root cause. Although they are found in greater quantities in the twigs and the seeds, these compounds have been found in the fruit pulp. Making that into leather likely does concentrate them down, and my friend, who's seen Jerry McLaughlin speak in person, relayed to me that Jerry said that people who take too much of a pawpaw twig extract or certain acetogenins are likely to throw up and/or have a serious upset stomach.

Hope this is helpful!

All the best,

On Fri, Nov 1, 2013 at 12:34 PM, Melissa M <[address removed]> wrote:
Forwarding a message from member Tony B. Re: his not so pleasant pawpaw experience -
Thanks Tony!

From: Anthony Buck <[address removed]>
Date: November 1, 2013 at 11:53:51 AM EDT
To: melissa miles <[address removed]>
Subject: Fwd: pawpaw toxicity

I think because Permies are so into American Pawpaw because it is so nutritious and a native fruit, we should send this out.

Pawpaw toxicity seems to increase when dried or heated. This is American Pawpaw not Papaya which is a subtropical/tropical fruit.
Hi Tony,

I am sorry you had a bad experience eating dried pawpaw fruit! (diarrhea one time and throwing up another). We don't know exactly what causes it, but stomach upset does seem to be more common in dried pawpaws or pawpaw leather than in other pawpaw products, so whatever compound or pathogen people are sensitive to must be concentrated by the drying process. There have been enough people have bad experiences with pawpaw leather that I wouldn't really recommend making it. Most folks do not have the same issues with pawpaw in uncooked recipes (ice cream, yogurt, etc), if you still want to give it another try.

The method we recommend for long-term storage of pawpaw fruit is freezing the pulp (skin and seeds removed). Also, often the culprit is if the fruit are bruised or have any discoloration in the flesh, they can be contaminated with bacteria or other pathogens. A lot of people think pawpaws need to be over-ripe to the point of being brown or black, but that isn't the case and is a lot more likely to have bacterial growth inside, so if you do freeze fruit or use it in other recipes, do not use fruit that are very over-ripe, discolored, or have cracks that could let bacteria in.

Hope this helps, if you have any other questions, please let me know!


Sheri Crabtree
Horticulture Research and Extension Associate
Kentucky State University
College of Agriculture, Food Science, and Sustainable Systems
132 Atwood Research Facility
Frankfort, KY 40601

KSU Pawpaw Information Website
KSU Pawpaw Facebook Page

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