Herbs & Plants,  Nutrition

My Upsetting Experience with Paw Paw Fruit

I love fruit and never met a piece of fruit I didn’t like until recently.  Before I go into my upsetting experience with paw-paw fruit, let me first say everybody is different.  What one person can digest well, another person might not be able to digest at all.  I’ll be documenting my own personal experience with paw paw as well as similar reactions others have had to this fruit.  I will then leave it to your discretion whether or not you want to try paw paw for yourself.  If you’ve already been eating it and you’ve had no reactions to the fruit that’s wonderful.  I still invite you to continue reading just in case you know someone who could use this information.

A New Fruit To Me

It’s exciting coming across a new fruit or vegetable, especially one that’s native to this country.  So imagine my delight when at my local farmers market I walked by a gentleman selling something I had never seen before.   On his table were greenish colored, oval shaped objects some of them still hanging off branches.  Intrigued, I asked the man what it was, he replied that it was paw paw fruit.  He told me paw paw is native to America and the taste of the fruit is a mixture between a banana and mango.   He said the texture is like custard  and went on to say that it even had a nickname of “custard apple”.  I was immediately sold by that description.  The gentleman picked out a real nice ripe paw paw for me.  Immediate thoughts of what I could do with the fruit started filling my head.  I happily left the market with my treasure.

Inspecting the Paw Paw

After putting up all my produce from the market, I took out the paw paw fruit to inspect it closely.  The smell of the paw paw was so fragrant even before cutting into it.  I cut it horizontally, took a spoon and dug in for a little taste.  The first taste was truly what the guy at the farmers market described.  The texture was like custard and the flavor was a cross between banana, pineapple and mango.  There was a slight bitter aftertaste.    I scooped out all the fruit pulp, separated the seeds and placed it in the fridge for my plans for it the next day.

Paw Paw Waffles

The next day I did a little research and found out that people make breads, cakes and pies with paw paw.   So I decided to make paw paw waffles!  I decided to use a banana waffle recipe and substitute bananas for the paw paw.    Since it was just me eating I made enough waffles for one person using all the paw paw.   The waffles smelled amazing because of the fruity smell of the paw paw fruit.  The taste was even better.

The After Effects

As soon as I ate the waffles my stomach started cramping up and I had slight nausea.  I didn’t think anything of it, I just associated it with the fact that I just pigged out on three big waffles and maybe I overstuffed myself.  After a trip to the restroom I felt a little bit better and went about my day however still not feeling that great.  The waffles were my first and only meal of the day which was around 1:00pm.  Later on still not feeling well I went to sleep around 11:00pm.  Sleep didn’t last long because I was awakened at 2am by a sharp pain in my stomach.   I rushed to the bathroom where I stayed for the next hour (it seemed like eternity) vomiting, sweating and having diarrhea.  I felt horrible and knew instantly it was the paw paw.   It couldn’t have been anything else.   After what seemed forever for my body to remove the paw paw from my system, I feel asleep.   When I woke up the first thing I did was go to my laptop to see if anyone else became sick after eating this fruit.  I found some interesting information.

Paw Paw Toxicity

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, paw paw fruit is indigenous to America specifically in the states of NJ, Wyoming, Texas, Colorado, Mississippi and Ohio.   Native Americans ate the fruit and used the bark to make fishing nets.  Lewis and Clark also ate the fruit during their expedition in 1810.  So this fruit has been around and has been eaten for centuries.  However what I also found out was that there are some people who have strong reactions to the fruit.

The USDA stated: “While many people enjoy the taste of pawpaw, some individuals become sick after eating the fruit. Skin rash, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea can develop. In other cases, individuals may be allergic to the leaves or the fruit skin (Peterson, 1991).”

During my research I came upon a forum discussing paw paw intolerances.  Just like me there were people in the forum that became sick after eating paw paw, especially when it was cooked.  Here’s what someone from the University of Kentucky said on the forum:

“Stomach upset eating pawpaw seems worse in cooked pawpaw, and even worse in dried pawpaw/fruit leather- I have heard enough reports of people getting sick to their stomach eating pawpaw fruit leather that I would not recommend making it. We are not sure what causes this stomach upset though, we have speculated fatty acids that go rancid in the drying or heating process but that is just a guess. Also some people can have allergies or sensitivities to pawpaw.”

Paw Paw and Annonacin

Paw paw has high concentrations of a chemical property called annonacin. (2)   Annonacin can have toxic effects on the nervous system.  It has also been reported to cause Parkinson type symptoms.  From what I’ve read someone would have to eat tons of paw paw in order for the annonacin properties to effect them.  But again there are certain people who may be super sensitive and it might not take a huge amount of paw paw to upset their system.

Final Thoughts

I’ve researched enough sites to know what happened to me doesn’t happen to everyone when they eat paw paw fruit.  Lots of people eat the paw paw raw and cooked with no problems.  Some people like me are just more sensitive to the properties of the fruit.  For those that can eat it without any symptoms, paw paw has some great benefits.  It’s known to be high in protein, antioxidants and vitamins A & C. (3)   There’s also reports that paw paw has anti-cancer properties due to the acetogenins in the fruit.  These acetogenins can rob the cancer cells of the energy it needs to survive.(4)

My experience with paw paw has ruined me from ever wanting to try it again.  As a matter of fact it was even challenging looking at pictures of the fruit without having flashbacks. Ha ha   From now on I’ll continue to stick with another fruit also known as paw paw….papaya. 🙂

If anyone has tried paw paw otherwise known as “poor mans banana” please comment below, I’m curious to know if anyone else has had reactions similar to mine.










  • Joanna

    My sister in law and I picked a bunch of pawpaw at a park last week. We ate from a few raw ones as we gathered. I didn’t have a reaction. The next day we made pawpaw bread by substituting the bananas in our banana bread recipe for pawpaw pulp. A few hours after pulling it out of the oven we tried it. It was delicious!! I was so excited. But about two hours later I got sick and started throwing up. The other people that ate it with me didn’t feel well either, one had bad stomach cramps. I’m so disappointed because it was so delicious, but I don’t think I’ll be having pawpaw ever again.

    • Desiree

      Thank you for sharing your experience! I’m so sorry you got sick! Like you I thought pawpaw was so delicious but after baking with it, I don’t even want to eat it raw. 🙁

    • Deborah kelly

      After waiting 10 years for my pawpaws to bear fruit, this year they did! And…i discovered I am allegic to them. Ate 1 one day….nauaea and slight stomach upset, several days later I put two in a smoothie and could not finish the Smoothie as I could tell I was going into another reaction that lasted all day of slight nausea and stomach upset. I will not be eating any more of them!

    • Jennifer

      Same for us! We made pawpaw scones and they were soooooooooo good. The best scones we’ve ever had! Then we both got soooooooo ill. Raw pawpaws are fine for us, but never will we bake with them again.

    • Rhonda Rothrock

      My experience was nearly identical to Joanna’s with the exception that I made the paw paw bread in a bread machine. I’d eaten raw paw paws with no problems so decided to try making bread.

      Not all of my bread machine efforts have been successful but the paw paw bread went perfectly. It rose perfectly and baked to a beautiful golden brown. The smell make my stomach growl with anticipation. We had some surprise visitors, a couple, who arrived just as I was taking the bread out of the machine. I cut it, perfect looking inside. We slathered it with butter and ate. Tast was amazingly good. I joked that it could have won a prize at the fair.

      30 min later our friends left. My hubby said he felt off so attempted a nap. My lower digestive track was showing symptoms of unrest. Then it hit me, flying out both ends (sorry for being so graphic).
      Once my system seemed purged of the unwelcomed bread, I checked on my hubby. He was similarly, but less violently ill. Then I thought “OUR FRIENDS!!! I’VE Poisoned Our Friends!!!”

      I called them, their daughter answered stating they were home but her dad was napping and her mom didn’t feel well.

      Now I refer to it as The Paw Paw Incident of 2004. To this day, I haven’t (I can’t) eat one cooked or raw.

      Because the machine doesn’t heat or bake the same way an oven does, I/we deduced that maybe there was some bacteria in the paw paws that grew (incubated) in the dough while the machine was in the low heat rising stage that wasn’t killed during the baking stage because the baking temp might not been hot enough.

      I didn’t research it at the time. Today my sister mentioned reading something about folks similarly getting sick so I googled it and found this and other articles. Released to know it wasn’t necessarily my mess-up.

  • Harold

    So, I live in central Ohio near OSU and I have consumed Paw Paws since age 9 (like over 70 years) all over Ohio & I have grown Paw Paws trees in my yard.
    Every once in a while I will get a intestinal/bowel reaction and that generally occurs early on in the season & I assume it is because I have not had the fruit for a while.
    Paw Paws ripen past their prime & spoil quickly (48-72 hours quickly), And not all trees are the same due to type of Paw Paw and the soil & water conditions differ.
    Once that ripening process gets past a certain point the more likely there may be a reaction and the closer you get to the skin or seed is the point your taste buds will sense a change in the taste.
    At that point it’s sorta a chicken or egg kinda guess as to a cause because there are issues with where the fruit fell on the ground and what it came in contact with as well as a fungus that creates those black spots on the skin of a Paw Paw as it is on the tree.
    It’s Basically A Wild Fruit, Out In The Open, Usually Unwashed When Consumed, So There Are Many Factors That Can Get Overlooked.
    I don’t have a clear answer except to say the outer skin changes taste at some point to something akin to a tobacco like taste when over ripe and the seeds may add to that as well.
    In my world of taste, When you get a Paw Paw at the right point, You are Good To Go.
    But, Too Much Of A Good Thing ? Not Sure About….
    I Enjoy them as a novel short term seasonal dessert, As far as Paw Paw as a medicine, I have heard things that I wonder about.
    But Then, I Heard Last Week It Was OK To Inject Disinfectant Too, Sooo Go Figure… : )

    • Desiree

      Thanks for your comment Harold! I’m thinking when I ate my Paw Paw it was spoiled already. Because it was very ripe.

    • Birgit

      I am so glad I found this post and the replies! We finally have an amazing crop of pawpaw fruit on our two trees this year. I didn’t have a reaction for the first, very ripe one. But the second fruit I ate, a day later, was much more firm. Several hours after eating it a slight stomach ache and diarrhea hit.
      So I have hope that the next ripe one will be no problem. I liked that Harold pointed out the many unknowns when eating this fruit.
      I certainly will not try to use it for cooking 😉
      Thanks again!


        My wife and I had recently discovered the paw paw in a wild edible guide to Missouri, I had previously known about them but forgot. We took a trip down to the bluffs of the Missouri river for a scouting expedition. There were plenty of fruit galore still on the tree so we began to pick and pick and pick. We took our great bounty home and began to eat. The unripe fruit causes for horrible cramps and diarrhea. So we tried letting it ripen then baking with it but this was no good either.

        The fruit has a very short window for picking. I have read once the first fruit hits the ground you are good to harvest the rest. I would still be sceptical of this because on our second attempt some of the fruit has fallen but others were still hanging on pretty good. I had just made cookies last night, so far so good. I would recommend if you are going to cook with them not to use as much in the recipe. Only enough for flavoring.

    • Hoa Le

      I didn’t want to admit it first two incidents. Sadden as I’m sitting on royal throne at almost 2am and realizing that I’ll never able to eat this fruit again. Definitely not worth the pain.

  • Lindsay Erben

    I grew up as a kid eating paw paw and was so excited to plant three trees in my yard. After the first year one grew a paw paw and I ate it as soon as it was ready. I only had a few scoops of it raw and an hour later almost fell down shaking, vomiting, strong stomach cramps, heart palpitations, dry mouth, and the worst migraine ever. Threw up until there wasn’t anything in my stomach and I’m sure it was the paw paw. I was planning out a trip to the ER and how I would explain a paw paw, but it subsided after a few hrs. I won’t be eating the fruit ever again. At least the trees are beautiful!

    • Dom

      Ok, I have a farm in KY and have owned it for 20+years. Paw paws grow there naturally. I’ve found a few ripe over the years and had them while in the woods. Cut them open, taste them and all good. This year, 2021 noticed the large quantities growing and found a good amount already fallen and ripe. Discussed it with a knowledgeable older gentleman and decided to make paw paw pudding. His grandmother had done this for years when they were younger.
      Well, it destroyed my stomach, left me running to the bathroom all night long. Sun is now coming up and had an emergency run to Walgreens for pepto. Hoping to stop this ridiculousness. Never again! At least never cooked…
      Also, my girlfriend had the same results from eating the cooked paw paws.
      A week ago, some friends and myself had a few slices of one and no reaction.

    • Samantha Gillett

      I bought some from farmers market—beautiful—not over ripe—I picked 10–I came home—shelled them—made a small smoothie just to taste and froze the rest—mmmmm no reaction really—so later that night I made a milk shake with coconut milk or like a dole whip—was absolutely delish! Half hour later I’m vomiting, just absolutely so nauseated, gastrointestinal problems—horrible—took like 4 hours to clear—the worst feeling—

  • Joe

    This is interesting. I have never had much cooked paw paw. I have had paw paw beer and paw paw ice cream which were both amazing and no adverse affects. I have also had “overripe” pawpaw, and honestly it was one of the best tasting paw paw I have ever tried. I picked it up off of the ground and it was so ripe that probably 1/4 of it felt like liquid was inside. I also always suck all the fruit off of the seeds. Personally, I suspect this is an entirely personal reaction like anything else.

    Eating my first paw paw in the wild was one of the best experiences of my life.

    I don’t discount anyone’s experiences, but I thought I would share my experience for those that have not yet tried any paw paw. For me it was entirely worth it. Life changing really.

  • Miggs

    Ate some homemade paw paw bread (about 2 slices) that my mom made this morning. Oh my… couldn’t leave the bathroom. Felt like vomiting but only had diarrhea (several times). Lots of cramping and bloating. I ate some raw paw paw at their house yesterday with no ill effects. Now, I don’t know if it was the paw paw that did it or I know my mom likes to cook with sugar-free sweeteners, but reading all these makes me think it was the fruit. I have not felt pain like that since I had an actual stomach virus years ago!!

    • Stan de Riel

      I have eaten paw paw for a number of years from several trees I have. Have never had an adverse reaction. Have also frozen, and subsequently used the flesh for a Key-lime type pie. But mindful of the reported problems with dried and cooked paw paw, I make as a cold-set gelatin-gelled thing. Just mix neutral gelatin powder up in water at twice the package instruction concentration, heat in a microwave, with sugar and citric acid to taste. A haze of bubbles will rise to clear the solution as it gets hot. Then let cool to near room temperature, mix with an equal volume of pureed paw paw pulp, and lime oil if desired, turn into a pre-cooked pie shell, and chill until set. Once set, the pie is quite robust to transport. The added citric acid makes it unlikely to mold, as well. An additional note on paw paw: thaw only the amount you will use, rapidly, and use immediately. It darkens on standing, even refrigerated.

    • Laura

      Never had pawpaw in my life until this weekend. Similar to your experience, I found out about it at a farmer’s market and was excited to hear it was native to the area. Excited when I heard it tasted between a banana and a pineapple. I tasted it and to me it tasted ok, weird, but ok. It tasted like a melon with the consistency of a banana. I then tried to substitute two bananas with a pawpaw in my banana nut bread. I thought it tasted nasty, like not spoiled, but I just didn’t like the taste (melon/tea taste to me, which I dislike tea). My mom said she liked it. Then I felt like throwing up, which led me to this website to see if anyone else was experiencing something similar.

    • Nicole Cawlfield

      Thanks for posting this. I’ve eaten paw paws before after gathering them in a hike and was fine. Yesterday I made paw paw ice cream. It was so good. Maybe I ate a little too much because I woke up with eyes swollen and itchy, hives and rashes and pretty bad diarrhea. I was shocked because I’ve never had a problem with them before but it’s the only new thing I introduced. So sad about it!

  • Stephanie S

    I tried paw paw at a party this evening. About an hour after eating it, I felt nauseous and light headed. Luckily,
    I had a nausea pill with me and that portion subsided, but I had wicked cramps after with a pounding headache. I went to bed feeling awful and woke up in the middle of the night to take emergency trips to the bathroom and am still experiencing the cramps. My body is definitely angry! (And is currently.) I googled the paw paw effects after I ate the fruit and again during the night…apparently I was too late to avoid the miserable results. I am praying that this will pass soon! Never again. 😢

    • Drake smalls

      I saw Paw Paw fruit leather at the farmers market and bought some since i’ve never tried the fruit. Next thing i know like an hour later im curled up in a ball super nauseous and can literally hear my stomach turning. Feels super bloated and like im gonna puke. “Thankfully” only diarrhea and no puking so far. Worst part is it tasted terrible, i was just hungry. This is the only food i’ve ever been allergic to. Tip: try just a little bit and wait a few hours to see how you feel and keep Tums on hand.

    • Carol

      I just ate my very first slice of my very first paw paw bread from the tree on our property…. needless to say, I must be among those few sensitive people who react badly. Ugh!!! Nausea, cramping, sweats and headache. And it’s only been an hour since I ate it!

  • Susan

    I had my first pawpaw today and about 1-2 hours later had horrendous cramps, nausea and diarrhea. The pawpaw was not overripe and I didn’t eat near the seeds or skin, or eat very much of it, maybe about half a pawpaw. I ate it raw.

    I’ve been curious about the pawpaw for a long time. I’m a vegan living in Iowa and the idea of a sweet juicy fruit growing locally is intriguing.

    I’m glad that I satisfied my curiosity, but I have no desire to ever eat one of those things again!

    • Stewart

      I’ve eaten several from my backyard trees. I had mild diarrhea a few times and no reaction a few times. Will probably stop eating it. Have never cooked it and don’t plan to. I do enjoy it but it’s no big deal to stop

  • Kayli

    I have had this same experience! A bunch of paw paw trees grow on my uncles property, so my cousin gave me a bunch and I was going to make paw paw bread. I tried a couple raw and they were really good, I also tasted paw paw pudding last year that a family friend made, and both occurrences had no reaction. I went home and made the bread which took about 15 paw paws (needed 1 1/2 cups) and it was really very good! I had quite a large slice, and about 30 minutes later I became very dizzy. My mouth started watering like I had to throw up so I did. I then had extreme diarrhea with more episodes of vomiting. My dad didn’t get the vomiting part but he did get the diarrhea part. So so strange! Definitely will never eat a paw paw again, just thinking of the smell makes me sick!! Might have ruined bananas for me as well..

  • Cricket K Steinweg

    At 3pm I had my first taste of paw paws. They had been picked by a friend several days earlier and I had kept them in the refrigerator as I prefer to eat fruit when it is cold. They were delicious. I especially enjoyed the custard like texture. By 7pm I was nauseous and by 9 pm I was doubled over with severe stomach cramping and bloating. By 10 pm I was vomiting and had diarrhea. The cramping remained for 12 hours and I remained nauseous for an additional 24 hours. As it was the only new food I had eaten that day and given the experiences of others I am certain the cause of my GI symptoms was the two paw paws.

  • Karen

    I’ve never had a problem with eating raw pawpaw. However, I became nauseous when I made pawpaw bread, like banana bread. When it’s baking, whatever is emitted in the air makes me ill. Not sure if I’m explaining that correctly… it’s not the odor that makes me nauseous, it’s breathing whatever chemical it emits. The first time, I didn’t realize what was happening. I thought I just wasn’t feeling well and the nausea stopped as soon as I left the house, away from the kitchen. The second time, I baked several loafs at once and it was very clear that there was a connection between the nausea and the bread baking.
    I honestly can’t remember if I felt ill after eating the bread the first time. I was at a potluck dinner and ate a lot of other food. I didn’t even try eating it the second time, when I immediately realized it was the baking bread that was causing me to feel ill.

  • Linda Burke

    I ate a pawpaw which was not fully ripe, and I had very bad nausea. I almost made myself throw up so that I could feel better, but it finally passed. My friend who has the pawpaw tree gave me a very ripe fruit and I ate only a little bite to see how it would affect me this time. I almost could not even try it because I felt so badly the first time. Fingers crossed that I will be ok. I have heard some great things about pawpaw trees and the fruit, so I am going to plant the seeds and see what happens – hopefully I will grow a tree. I can always give the fruit away to those who CAN eat it.

  • Agrexias

    After nearly a decade of caring for my pawpaw patch, the fruits of my labor turned sour moments after tasting my first fruits. Yesterday, I made pawpaw ice cream. After a couple of bites I noticed almost immediately that my stomach was cramping. I didn’t attribute it to the ice cream until today when I made pawpaw bread and tried a slice. My wife and I spent the first couple hours emptying our stomachs. We spent another 10 hrs suffering with extreme stomach cramps and nausea. This was not the bonding experience that I wanted for my wife today. Cooked pawpaw made the cramping and nausea much more intense. This has ruined pawpaws for me :). I had planned to give ice cream and bread to friends and family. Now, I am thinking that these will find their way to the compost pile instead.

  • Julie Kelly

    I got 8 paw paw from my friend. I knew some have a problems with the skin so I was very careful not to get any skin in my mouth. I started off eating one (all were fairly on the small side) . The next day I ate 2 and then again next day 2 (she told me to refrigerate them) they were delicious almost addicting but the closer I got to the skin I got a slight acidic/ bitter flavor with the sweetness so I stuck to eating mostly the centers and avoid the fruit directly touching the skin. I got a few cramps in my stomach about 10-20 min after eating that passed each time I ate them, it passed so fast it didn’t concern me (i get stomach aches from some fruit anyway ie grapes cantalope apples ) but the strangest thing is for hours after I eat it I have a slight dizziness, very slight upon standing a little light headed or if I move my head fast and I wondered if maybe the affect blood sugar or blood pressure both of which I am high in). It usually passed in 6 hours and it did not feel too concerning as it did not get scary or unbearable but was a little unusual. Im sure I would never want to eat more than 1 large or 2 small at a time. I think paw paw is something you go light on and if first time maybe just a bite or two / avoid the skin and dont cook until your sure you have no problems
    I hope to grow the seeds from my paw paw

  • Rebecca

    I was so excited to finally use the pawpaws I picked last month and froze. I made a loaf of bread, ate two slices and within an hour was nauseous and had stomach cramps. I’m only a few hours into this ordeal and I’m hoping it doesn’t get worse, but I’m ready to deal with what ever the pawpaws throw my way 🙁

  • sheryl wheeler

    I have been so happy to grow pawpaw trees. They are so beautiful and ancient. However I have the same reaction as it causes me to feel like I will die. Terrible cramps and diarrhea. I thought it was just me. I have a lot of food allergies. Now I am going to cut those two trees down and plant some plum trees. Ahh, terrible experience, but it does clean out your guts, haha.

  • David Kipps

    Overall, I’ve had good experiences with paw paws, (so far). I’m slow to take a liking to new flavors, so for the first few years, I didn’t really care for their flavor, but I ate small amounts anyway, since I had planted the trees and they seemed like a good idea. Then last year I had apparently acquired the taste for them and enjoyed eating them plentifully. This year with such a large supply of them, I ate multiple ones right after each other, almost making a full meal out of them. Still had plenty of them so I stored them in the fridge and was still eating them two weeks after the trees were finished ripening them. Towards the end, I was having to sort between ones that still had some good to them, versus ones that were spoiling, and everywhere in between. Only one or two times did I get a little diarrhea, apparently coinciding with when I’d swallow some that had probably gone too far towards spoilage (moldy/twang/rotten). Since I am a compulsive seed saver/planter, I saved every seed, cleaning all the flesh off of it while in my mouth, using my teeth and tongue to scrape them clean. Had no bad reactions to doing that either. All consumption was raw.

  • Lloyd

    I ate a lot of pawpaw the last 2 years with no problem. This year I froze some pulp including some that ripened differently, a darker yellow pulp. I baked it into a bread. Very severe diarrhea. Never again!

  • Mark

    Close to 30 years ago, I made paw paw bread after sampling the ripened raw fruit. I carefully washed, peeled and deseeded the fruit. Approximately 20-30 minutes after eating the bread, I became violently ill. After removing the contents of my stomach a few hours later, I did feel better and returned to normal. My wife also became nauseated however she didn’t consume as much as I had and so her reaction was far less powerful than mine. She has always been rather cautious when it comes to trying new foods and I’m just the opposite. This is one of the times it paid off for her and being adventurous didn’t work out so well for me. There is no way I’ll will ever try paw paw again in any form. I’m thinking there is a reason insects leave the fruits alone.

  • Coop

    I’ve been gathering and eating all kinds of wild/uncommon foods, including mushrooms (I’m VERY careful about positively identifying the mushrooms!), for more than 60 years. I’ve learned there are 3 things that I personally should not eat:

    Jerusalem artichokes–their inulin starch is not digestible by humans, period, ever, no you won’t get “used” to it if you eat it regularly. Just some people apparently tolerate gas better than others. Gives me severe intestinal gas pains and has been known to cause colic in children severe enough to result in a trip to the emergency room. Others have no more problem than after eating a serving of baked beans.

    Pokeweed–I don’t care how young, whether the shoots are reddish or greenish, how it’s cooked, no matter; this gives me nausea, intestinal cramps, and diarrhea. Because it is a known potentially fatal poison, I don’t recommend this one to anybody.

    Pawpaw fruit–I love the smell of it. I love the taste of it. If I eat it (raw) I inevitably get the screaming watery diarrhea the next morning. No nausea, no pain, just diarrhea. Because the flavor is fugitive to heat, I’ve never cooked it into anything, but I’ve had it in ice cream and a no-bake type of cheesecake. Same result. Everybody else I know just loves it and has no trouble. BUT from what I’ve read, 100% of people who have dried it and eaten it have gotten extremely sick. Pawpaw trees are well know for making their own insecticide, so maybe that’s what I am sensitive to. Generally though, this is concentrated in the seeds, skin of the fruit, and the leaves. Be very sure never to eat any seeds, and don’t try to scrape too close to the skin to get that last little bit of fruit; you will regret! My advice with pawpaw fruit is to sample just a little bit the first time, maybe a spoonful, and wait to see how you feel the next day before pigging out!

    By the way, those delicious morel mushrooms can make anybody sick if you don’t cook them long enough. They always contain methyl hydrazine, usually in amounts too small to notice. But some years, depending on the weather, they contain a lot more than usual. This chemical has been used as rocket fuel (!), and will definitely boost you into the bathroom in a hurry. However, it is completely detoxified if cooked long enough, so give your morels a long leisurely sojourn in the frying pan with lots of butter.

  • Mary

    Lol Niko! Yes! I tried this raw but I think it was underripe. Soft around the seeds and a bit hard around the edges. I just think some of us are not safe when consuming this fruit. And as a word of caution to anyone wanting to try it. But as for me it’s too late. I would never think this buttery yummy fruit would cause this. Ate my first paw paw (not knowing what it was-this reaction lead me to google at 3AM. My BIL just told me it was good and to try it. I’m starting to think he has it out for me.) at around 9pm with waves of nausea and diarrhea to come all night shortly after. I had such a dry mouth-I drank some sparkling water and that brought on more waves. This is no joke. And the fruit is delicious and I want more but won’t touch it. It’s the morning and my mouth is so dry and excuse me I have to go to the bathroom for what Niko described in a paw paw nutshell.

  • Susan

    A friend gave me a frozen bag of paw paw. It was a large amount so I decided to make fruit leather. As I was taking in it out of the dehydrator my husband and I tried some. It was interesting.
    Within the hour I was very nauseous and began throwing up numerous times, then had diarrhea. I laid down to rest and when I got up I was very lightheaded.
    My husband did not get nauseous but he had diarrhea.
    Must be something to dehydrating it and adding the heat.
    No more paw paw for us ever again.

  • Lauren

    I am creating a food forest and decided I wanted pawpaws. I’ve never eaten the fruit, but just touching the trees as I planted them had my hands tingling and burning. I will leave them there, but I’ll be very careful trying the fruit. Others can eat it.

  • Mrs. N.

    My husband and I have been growing pawpaws on our street corner for at least ten years now after we were introduced to its sale at the Purdue School of Agriculture apple farm store. We enjoyed them fresh but quickly realized they ripen quickly, surmising the reason why they’re not sold locally even though Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and thereabouts are its natural habitat. We experimented trying to grow them from 1. seed, 2. bare root, 3. digging up a tree, and finally succeeded, 4. baby trees sold through University of Kentucky because the plants have a long tap root apparently. Now, they grow wild all over our property and into the ravine because of their underground route of root propagation. We ate them fresh the first years we had a crop and in the last few years, there is so much pulp produced that we freeze it. The best results are when the pulp is frozen just before the peak of soggy ripeness when still brightly colored and semi-firm. That being said, I didn’t realize folks might get sick from eating it. Last year my freezer broke and I made as much pawpaw bread as I could before spoilage and took it to work, gave away loaves, made cookies, etc. Today, I was making pawpaw bread and I got to thinking about how to cover the slightly bitter flavor that I noted occasionally last year, and was thinking about adding chocolate powder or a lemon icing. So, then I found this article, and am thinking that I should make whatever in small batches so that no one overdoes the consumption, as well as consider that it may make people sick. I didn’t even think of that. I guess I won’t be sending out loaves to all my family members! Some have sensitive stomachs.

  • Mrs N.

    My contribution to this discussion is that I was excited to see pawpaws for sale at the Purdue University Agriculture Dept Apple Store because my father mentioned them when he lived in north Texas as a youngster and my husband and I ate fresh pawpaws, but as most people realize they have a very short shelf life.
    Then, I found that they grow wild around here as a native species, so tried various unsuccessful methods for propagation until we ordered small pawpaw trees from a Kentucky nursery associated with UK.
    From the original five planted within about fifteen square feet about ten years ago, we have pawpaws popping up all over the yard and lawn. Three were planted too close together and the one in the middle is very small and took a few more years to flower than the outer two.

    At the beginning when they first bloomed in early spring, my husband was occupied with a paintbrush for fertilization of the pollen, and later on he was picking off Japanese beetles that seemed to want to pig out on the leaves, but after those first years, he doesn’t pay much attention, until harvest when we’re busy picking them si fast off the trees just before squirrels take a bite and dispose of unripe fruit.

    They ripen in bowls in the kitchen just fine. We ate them fresh, in the hand and fruit salads. One time I made cookies to bring for refreshments to a kindergarten class, and forgot to tell the teacher that they did not contain any nuts, so the kids couldn’t eat them but the teacher took them home with her. We’ve made various bakery items, smoothies and a gelatin concoction substituting banana-containing recipes with them. I’d never heard about any digestive issue –just don’t eat the skin, or seeds.

    One time I had to hurry up and bake a bunch of cakes (our refrigerator broke and I the frozen puree was thawing), and then I froze the cakes again. I decided to serve one of the pawpaw breads for dessert when my sister was visiting, and a few hours after the meal, felt nauseated and without much warning vomited. No one else said anything, nor did anyone else vomit, and I attributed it to serving a couple of other ‘experiments’ for lunch –too many unfamiliar foods at one time. But, perhaps it was the cooked pawpaws.

    Anyway, in the next harvest, I had noticed that they some were a little over-ripe with a sort of bitterness, so I masked it with adding cocoanut flakes, and chocolate powder, using the pawpaws for the fruitiness, and I had no problem at all with slicing a piece for morning tea, and serving with a dab of honey. I was looking up more recipes and found this website, and it got me thinking about that time I threw up, so I’ll be cautious in the future to just use the ones that are at the peak of ripeness.

  • James

    I ate some raw this year with no ill effects but yesterday my partner made some paw paw bread. I can tell you last night was a new experience in diarrhea. Cold sweats and shivering. Headache and racing heart. Barely got to sleep. Its 11 am the next morning and I am still not right but at least better. Cooked seems to be no good, and like others, the thought of it makes me queasy.

  • James

    I am 62 and have eaten pawpaw since childhood.
    In recent years I have developed a severe allergy to them. Yesterday was my third reaction to eating them.
    Two years ago it was severe enough that I did go to the emergency room.
    I was given injections to counter severe food allergy. I had taken several Benadryl prior to the ER visit.
    The Dr. suggested that I get an EpiPen as my reactions may get worse!

    I know, to keep trying and expect different results is insanity, but I like them and was hopeful.
    This year we rinsed them in a mild chlorine solution then hydrogen peroxide to remove any molds.
    All to no avail.

    My reaction happens about 4-6 hours after eating them. Yesterday was a very small pawpaw and it was a mild-ish reaction…lol.
    My body will feel warm, start itching and hives will breakout all over.
    Two years ago at the ER room my wife took pictures of my back, it was so welted up that it looked like my skin was sagging and melting.
    Weird, but sad!

    I so enjoyed them as a child.
    They now cause such an food alegy reaction that I can no longer consume them.
    Another childhood pleasure that has been taken away!

  • Rae Kasdan

    I actually planted 2 pawpaw trees, which are now mature and produce plenty of fruit . What a disappointment to find out that I can’t tolerate it. I got sick immediately from eating pawpaw bread that I had cooked. When this happened a few years ago I could hardly find any references on the internet to pawpaw intolerance.
    Presently I try to give them away every year.

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