The Cheese Pantry: Paw Paw Curd

Paw Paw Curd and SchnabelhornFriends, run to your cupboards! What’s in them that you love, love, love? I’m asking because I’ve got an itch to start a series about the crackers, preserves, nuts, and noms that people covet for building snack plates — the sorta stuff you can stash now and set out later to build a fabulous, seemingly spontaneous cheese board.

This idea came from my spring intern, Erin, whose parting words were: Your blog needs a pantry page. 

A pantry page? Brilliant grrrrl. But then, sometimes it takes a stranger to notice that you eat mostly out of a file drawer at work. I have 3 desk drawers, and one of them contains a full stash of cheese boards, napkins, toothpicks, and butter knives, not to mention crackers, tins of nuts, candied ginger, cashews, dates, and ohhhh, sometimes a flask of bourbon.

This week’s cheese pantry link is: Heirloom Paw Paw Curd.

What is Paw Paw Curd?

Well, you’ve heard of lemon curd? Paw paw curd is a custard-like spread made from a wee mango-like fruit that’s native to the eastern United States. I first heard about paw paws several years ago at a local farmers’ market since they grow in PA, and just recently I met a Philadelphia distiller developing a paw paw brandy (it was, I might add, shockingly delicious).

So I got excited when I saw a jar of Paw Paw curd over at Scrumptious Pantry, a Chicago enterprise belonging to Lee Greene who cans historical varietals. Her site is a sort of renegade e-cupboard — full of curious catsups and quirky pickles. She urged me to try her Beaver Dam Peppers, because I have a ventricle attached to family in Wisconsin. But Beaver Damn Peppers did not move me. They did not. I wanted Paw Paw Curd.

Paw Paw Curd

Paw Paw Curd Pairings

Butterscotch cream pie — that’s kinda how paw paw curd tastes. BUT, there’s some fruit funk to it. And you know I love funk. This curd sent me right to my favorite mecca of funk, the Di Bruno Bros. cheese case in the Italian Market, for I’d heard whisperings of a real gaper, a new Alpine stinker called Schnebelhorn. Need I even describe it?

Paw paw curd is to stinky cheese what chocolate is to bacon — it’s a dessert-ifier. Dob some paw paw curd on an oozy buddy, like Humble Pie or Red Hawk, and you’ve got a savory sweetie. Some will find this to be an acquired taste and prefer a more delicate cheese — like the sweet lamb that is Leonora — or soothing mascarpone. But I’m telling you: I took a hunk of stinky cheese, some paw paw curd, and a box of graham crackers out to the stoop the other night, and the neighbors ett it all up.

Next week: A July 4 Cheese Spread with Marisa McClellan of FoodinjarsThe pantry explodes! We’ll have recipes for crackers, cherry chutney, pickled blueberries, shrub cocktails, and spicy brittle for you patriotic cheese board. We even raid Trader Joe’s for easy-to-find hunks that all Americans can sink their teeth into. Break out the sparklers and the mystery raw-milk blue!

Disclosure: This is where I tell you that Scrumptious Pantry sent me the sample jar of paw paw curd you see in these photos. The cheeses featured on the board were my own selection, purchased from my own dairy kitty. I only accept samples that are relevant to cheese, and I write up what moves me.

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