There’s a Secret Tropical-Like Fruit Growing in Massachusetts

And Clover has the bounty.

This rare tropical fruit secretly grows in Massachusetts.

This rare tropical fruit secretly grows in Massachusetts. Photo provided.

It sort of looks like a cross between a mango and an avocado. The taste is sweet, and the texture is mushy. It’s tropical, and yet, this fruit grows in the woods of states like Massachusetts, Maryland, and Michigan. It’s called a pawpaw, and it’s almost impossible to find.

It’s so secretive (there’s only a few farms in the Commonwealth that offer the pome) that Clover Food Lab, which just acquired 40-pounds of the rare fruit, won’t disclose who its supplier was, and reps say that they don’t even know the farmer’s name. “He’s a [Mass.] fruit farmer, but he gave us his entire supply and wants to fly under the radar so he doesn’t get swamped with requests,” says Lucia Jazayeri, Clover’s press rep. “Rumor has it there may be a second grower out there somewhere, but unless we find them, ours will be the one and only supply of them.” The fruit is not sold in stores, she says, because “it would collapse during transit, and go bad on the shelves of a store. You have to know someone who knows someone to get it.”

NPR discovered the fruit in 2011 from kayakers on the Potomac. The writer said it was like a “mango-meets-the-banana … with a little hint of melon.” After discovering the “secret snack,” NPR dug into the history and found that Thomas Jefferson was a fan.

Now, you can try this unique fruit at Clover headquarters in Cambridge (7 Holyoke St.). The team is incorporating the pawpaw into a homemade soda and a whoopie pie recipe. “The pawpaws work beautifully in this recipe because the flavor plays really well with a bit of sugar and the fizz of the carbonated water,” Jazayeri says. “For the whoopie pies, we’ll be making a chocolate wacky cake, and folding pawpaw puree into our heavy cream and cream cheese filling.”

As for trying the pawpaw on its own, it’s possible, but pricey. “A woman asked for pawpaw on her yogurt and granola this morning. I think we sold it to her for an extra $10,” Jazayeri says.