Study finds pawpaw a tasty fat substitute in baked goods

better ingredient to use.

"Fat does have a function in food," Duffrin said. "It adds tenderness and texture. When you replace fat you run into problems."

The only thing the participants didn't like about the pawpaw muffins was their appearance: Some commented that the pawpaw treat was too dark in color.

Duffrin suggests consumers may accept the puree of the pawpaw as a fat substitute in commercial food products or a food item itself, good news for cultivators and fans of this fruit.

The pawpaw trees, which are about 20 to 30 feet tall, can grow in various regions of eastern North America, as far north as Ontario, Canada, as far south as Florida and as far west as Nebraska. The fruit, about three to six inches in length, has a tough green skin and orange or yellow pulp, with about six almond-shaped seeds. Pawpaws haven't been commercially successful because they have a shelf life of only three days.

But the fruit is undergoing a small revival across the country, and other universities are conducting research ranging from horticulture to medicinal uses of the pawpaw tree. Duffrin used a puree provided by an Albany, Ohio, company that hopes to revitalize the pawpaw industry by producing frozen fruit products.

"Appalachian Ohio has economic problems, but if the region develops new products it could create new jobs and farms," she said. "Really, one of the benefits of the study was to create a spring board for the pawpaw. There is some food research on the pawpaw out there, but it appears there needs to be more."

In the future, Duffrin hopes to conduct more studies on whether the general public will accept pawpaw as a common food item. Her next study will explore ways to preserve and use the fruit.


Contact: Andrea Gibson
Ohio University

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