When the forest starts to smell like bananas, it means the pawpaws are ready for harvesting, Amy Goldman shared.
“I’d never heard of pawpaws until last year when one of our farmer friends brought us a bunch of them. We tried them in our kombucha, and it sold out so fast. It was incredible. But they’re really only ripe once a year; so once it’s gone, it’s gone. We have to wait until next year,” said Goldman, the owner-operator of The Brewkery kombucha taproom in North Kansas City, as well as founder of the Lucky Elixir Kombucha brand.
Click here to read more about how Amy Goldman and her husband, Sean, first launched Lucky Elixir and The Brewkery.
Often described as a tropical combination of a mango and banana, the pawpaw’s flavor is a unique and vibrant one, Goldman explained — noting the tartness of kombucha pairs well with the sweetness of the fruit.
“Our tagline says, ‘We ferment for flavor,’” she shared. “We really try to do that because we want to balance the acidity and the sweetness, and then we enhance the flavor with whatever fruit or herbs or spices or hops we add in. You’re going to have a really one-of-a-kind experience when you drink our kombucha.”
Click here to follow The Brewkery on Instagram — and to learn about more new fruit infusions, like the just-tapped “Razmataz” raspberry lemongrass ginger.
Pawpaws are easily bruised and have a short shelf life. In turn, the vast majority of grocery stores will not carry the fruit, leaving it unknown to many — even in areas like Missouri and Kansas where pawpaws were once wild and abundant. Although many of Goldman’s customers are first-time pawpaw consumers, she has seen it rise in interest among curious foodies, she noted.
“I think pawpaws are becoming more popular, but it’s still one of those things that has a bit of mystery and mystique to it,” Goldman said. “I know Sandhills Brewing in Mission does a pawpaw beer every year, so it’s definitely getting some attention.”
The fruit tends to ripen around September and October, but individuals can deseed and freeze the pawpaw to have pulp year-round.
“We weren’t ready to make out in September when our pawpaws were ripe,” Goldman noted. “It’s quite the process to cut each one open, get all the seeds out and make our pulp. But then we just froze it until we had kombucha ready.”
Goldman sources her pawpaws from The Garden at Dogwood Forest — co-owned by her friend and farmer, Rick Mareske, who also leads the Sustainable Agriculture Department at Johnson County Community College. He co-owns the 40 acres of Dogwood Forest in KCK alongside Regina Compernolle.
The Brewkery’s pawpaw kombucha is only available on-tap, unless individuals purchase The Brewkery’s 12 Days of Christmas 12-pack.
“The package comes with 12 unique taproom series cans — but the flavors are a surprise,” Goldman teased. “But I will tell you, pawpaw is one of them! This would be a great gift for anyone who enjoys kombucha.”
Click here to purchase The Brewkery’s 12 Days of Christmas 12-pack.
With 2022 just around the corner, Goldman shared that she plans to expand Lucky Elixir through a new canning line.
“Right now we have a two-head canner, so it’s a slow process to can a whole tank of kombucha,” she explained. “A new canning line will allow us to can a lot faster and be able to scale up our production. We also have a line of alcoholic kombucha, so we’d like to make a lot more and get a distributor for that line.”
Click here to read about The Brewkery’s line of “Lucky Booch” alcoholic kombucha that was released this year.
This story is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.