Pawpaw Pickin'

The best way to eat a pawpaw? “Cut it in half, scoop it out and eat it like a custard in a cup, which is essentially what it is,” said Andrew Moore in an interview with Splendid Table. Moore is an expert on the history and uses of this native fruit and author of “Pawpaw.”


Historically, pawpaws have been a big part of the local diet. According to Moore, “Humans have eaten pawpaws in Appalachia from day one. Fossil records show that the earliest Native Americans ate the fruit in great quantities, and even used the tree’s fibrous inner bark for rope, cordage, clothing items, and baskets. Subsequent pioneers—European and African newcomers—also ate the fruit. In some Appalachian locales, there were so many pawpaws the tree inspired town names–so we now have Paw Paw, West Virginia; Paw Paw, Kentucky; and even Paw Paw rivers and streets and avenues.”

Pawpaws are the largest native fruit known to the U.S, but they are often forgotten because we don’t see them in grocery stores. The reason for this is because pawpaws have a very short shelf life. They’re best eaten fresh off the tree, with a spoon as recommended by Moore.

A plus about pawpaws? Like many other native plants, pawpaws don’t require much external input to produce well. Unlike apples or pears, they are fairly resistent to disease and pests. So, they are easy to grow, needing no pesticides or herbicides to flourish.

The flavor is usually described as a cross between a mango and a banana, with a creamy texture. If you come across a wild pawpaw tree in the woods and find yourself with lots of the fruit, you can always make ice cream with them so as not to waste any of your harvest.

Knoxville is smack-dab in the middle of the “pawpaw belt,” which spans 26 states in the U.S. Beardsley Farm has a handful of pawpaw trees, which bore their first fruit last year. In this area, pawpaws are generally ready to harvest at the end of August. If you would like to be a part of the harvest, please come out to volunteer during this time. Give us a call in August to learn when we think the pawpaws will be at their prime.

A Day in the Life of Weasel

Lazily, I lift my eyelids, but only slightly. I hear the sound of one of those big metal machines on wheels coming down the gravel driveway. Not knowing whether this is one of my humans or not I choose not to get up just yet, it was a long night of hunting snakes and rodents that trespass into the vegetable beds of my farm. I hear the sound of keys jingling and footsteps coming towards the fence that wraps around my home. It’s not until I hear the lock click open and the chain fall against the fence that I lift my head. I know now that it must be one of my humans here to feed and pet me. As I walk in their direction, I try to squeeze in my daily cat stretches; health is pretty important, after all.

It’s the two blonde humans today. I prance up to them as they are unlocking the wooden building where they store my food. I am fully expecting my mandatory greeting pets, but they seem distracted today, both staring at the black wall they sometimes write on. Then, one of them heads towards a chair, that’s the signal; anytime someone sits in one of the chairs around the table it means they are ready to attentively pet me. I don’t wait for an invitation, they know the drill, and I leap onto their lap. Without fail, it begins- this daily stroking, scratching, and general patting is the perfect way to begin my morning.

The other blonde wanders out of the barn, maybe she’ll find the gift I left for them around the corner. Sure enough, I hear the footsteps stop and the elevated voice of the human outside saying something to the other. I hear the name they use to refer to me- Weasel. The blonde that is affectionately snuggling me chuckles and gives me a few more scratches before rising from the chair and urging me off her lap. Slightly peeved with the interrupted morning pets I stay behind and bathe myself. I never know what they do with the gifts I leave them; surely they are proudly displayed in a trophy case somewhere being admired by all the humans who pass through my farm.


I find a suitable place to perch and continue grooming myself. More of those metal machines start rolling down the gravel lane and 5-10 humans exit the cars. My two blonde humans greet them enthusiastically and hand them paper and pens. The guest humans sit down on the benches outside, most assuredly awaiting my approach. I waste no time; freshly groomed and well rested,I strut over to the group. They “ooh” and “aah” at me, some reaching out their hands and making that familiar clicking noise with their mouths trying to draw my attention. There is no method to my choosing, I approach all to receive my pets, some are too soft, some are too rough, some are just right- and it’s these ones I linger around.

My blonde humans and this new group wander off to play in the dirt; they sure do love dirt around here. I take this opportunity to take a well-deserved nap in my favorite building. It’s always warm inside; the walls are nearly clear so I can keep an eye on my farm, and occasionally a human will wander in to love on me while I rest. I travel back and forth between this building and the big wooden one. Sometimes I explore the grounds or administer breaks in the form of snuggles for the humans digging in the dirt.

I know the day is coming to an end when the guest humans have gone and it is just me and my humans. They complete a few more small tasks and herd the chickens back into their home. After a few more pets and scratches, they lock the buildings and fences and take their leave. As the sun goes down, the farm comes alive with various insects and critters. Thus, the real work begins. I begin patrolling the grounds, fending off intruders, and practicing my skills in stealth and agility. I keep myself busy and take the occasional nap until the next day when the cycle begins again. 

After the Harvest...How to Store Vegetable Crops

The time has finally come: the harvest is in and you need to properly store your vegetables so that your hard work doesn't go to waste. This post is a quick cheat-sheet on how to best store vegetables for 1-4 weeks (depending upon the crop). If you have more then you can use in that time, look for follow-up posts on food preservation techniques for check out the National Center for Home Food Preservation

Green Beans - Refrigerate in a plastic bag. Best when used with 7-10 days.

Beets - Cut off stem one inch from the crown, and store the beet roots unwashed in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Wash and dry greens and store in a plastic bag with a paper towel. Greens will keep for up to one week.  

Broccoli and Cauliflower - Store unwashed heads in a plastic bag with a paper towel in the refrigerator. Only trim the large leaves. Use within 1-2 weeks.

Cabbage - Uncut and untrimmed cabbage heads can last for up to two months in the fridge. Do not remove outer leaves before storing. Once head is cut, store in a plastic bag or wrap in plastic wrap. Use cut cabbage within 1-2 weeks.

Carrots - Remove tops and store carrots unwashed in the refrigerator for 2-4 weeks. Greens are edible and can be used within the week for vegetable stock. 

Corn on the cob - Refrigerate with husks on and use as soon as possible for best flavor, preferably with 5-7 days.   

Cucumbers - Store uncut and unpeeled cucumbers in the refrigerator. Use within 1 week. Use cut cucumber within 1-2 days. 

Eggplant - Eggplant is best stored at a cool room temperature, but can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week if needed. 

Garlic - Store whole heads of garlic in a cool, dry, dark place with good ventilation. Do not refrigerate.

Greens (this includes: Asian Greens (Bok Choy, Tatsoi), Beet Greens, Arugula, Chinese Cabbage, Chard, Collards, Kale, Lettuce, Mustard, Spinach, and Turnip Greens) - Wash and dry greens and store in a plastic bag with a paper towel. Greens will keep for up to one week.  If your greens do become wilted, follow the trick below, provided by Farm Fresh To You.

Okra - Best if used immediately, to avoid mold. Otherwise, store unwashed in the refrigerator for up to 5-7 days.

Onions - Keep the fresh green onions in a plastic bag in the fridge, use within a couple days to keep greens fresh. If onions are prepped for storage, keep in a cool, dry, well ventilated area to avoid mold and sprouting. If properly stored, onions can last for months. 

Peas - Use as soon as possible.  Refrigerate in a plastic bag for 4-5 days.  Storing peas will cause them to lose some of their sweetness and crispness.

Peppers - Refrigerated unwashed for 1-2 weeks. 

Potatoes - Refrigerate baby new potatoes if not used within 2-3 days. Most varieties can be stored at room temperatures for up to 2 weeks unwashed, but keep away from light. For longer storage, store in a cool, dark, and humid place. 

Radishes - Cut off greens and store the roots unwashed in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks. 

Summer Squash (Yellow Squash and Zucchini) - Since summer squash dehydrates quickly, use as soon as possible. Store in the plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Sweet Potatoes - Store unwashed in a cool, dark place for up to a month.

Tomatoes - Keep at room temperatures until ripe. Use quickly once ripened. Do not refrigerate. 

Turnips - Cut off stem one inch from the crown, and store the turnip roots unwashed in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks. Wash and dry greens and store in a plastic bag with a paper towel. Greens will keep for up to one week.  

Winter Squash - Can be stored at room temperature for at least a month. Can be stored for several months in a cool and dry location.