Nearly all of the papaya eaten in the United States comes from Hawaii and is a little smaller – a little smaller than a football – than the variety that often comes out of Central America that is much bigger in size.
Papayas, Carica Papaya, are native to Mexico and northern South America but have naturalized to the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, and can even be found in parts of California, Texas, and Florida where the tropical conditions are right.
Papayas start green and ripen to yellow. A fully ripe papaya will not have any green on it when ripe. They have orange flesh and are soft to the touch, like a ripe avocado.
A fully ripe papaya will be completely yellow with orange flesh. It should be soft to the touch, like a ripe avocado. If the flesh is beginning to turn more translucent than orange, your papaya has passed its peak ripeness.
Papaya is a soft, sweet, delicious fruit. The experience will be much like eating a cantaloupe. The flavor is like a blend of mango, peach and banana.
Papaya has a delicate flavor that can easily be overpowered by other fruits. If you're adding it to a smoothie for its wonderful flavor and health benefits, try to limit the amount of other items you put it with, otherwise it will get lost.
When you cut into your papaya you may notice a pungent, possibly off-putting smell caused by an enzyme called papain. While being amazing for your digestive health and making papaya a wonderful addition to meat marinades for its tenderizing properties, it can stink a bit.
To mitigate that smell, simply squeeze lime juice over the fruit. Not only will the smell go away, but lime and papaya perfectly complement each other.
The skin of a papaya fruit is not edible, so whether you slice the papaya or scoop out the flesh, you will be tossing the skin into your compost or green waste.
To peel a papaya, place the papaya vertically on the cutting board and cut the skin off from top to bottom, making sure not to cut too deeply and lose the fruit. Then, cut the papaya in half, remove the seeds, and you cut the fruit into cubes for a fruit salad, or pop it into the blender for your smoothie or meat marinade.
Another popular way to prepare papaya is by cutting it in half from top to bottom, scoop out the seeds, then use a melon baller or other small spoon to scoop out the tender, juicy fruit. They make a great addition to a fruit salad or served on top of vanilla ice cream or yogurt.
You can also freeze the balls of papaya to be added into smoothies at a later date, or even to substitute for ice cubes in beverages.
The seeds are actually edible in moderate quantities and have peppery, spicy flavor, much like a peppercorn.
Papaya seeds are edible and have a flavor that is very close to horseradish and peppercorns, both peppery and spicy. Some people will eat them alongside their fresh papaya because of the flavor contrast between the sweet fruit and the peppery, spicy seeds.
You can also dry the seeds and grind them and use them as a substitute for peppercorns, although they aren't quite as strong as actual pepper.
Their most common use is in salad dressings.
Most of the papaya consumed in the US comes from Hawaii, Mexico, and Central America.
If you're trying to find a healthy snack that leaves you feeling full and not wanting to grab for a bag of chips, papaya is your new best friend. The fiber content not only leaves you feeling full, but also helps your digestive health working alongside an enzyme called papain.
Its vitamin C content boosts your immunity and helps to prevent arthritis while the vitamin A is great for eye health. Its high antioxidant content has also linked papaya to cancer prevention.
100g of papaya fruit contains:
The peak papaya season is from early summer to fall.
Papaya has a delicate flavor that can easily be overpowered by other fruits. If you're adding it to a smoothie for its wonderful flavor and health benefits, try to limit the amount of other items you put it with, otherwise it will get lost. It compliments lime, banana, and coconut very nicely.
Eaten fresh, it goes wonderfully on top of yogurt, in a fruit salad, thrown into a smoothie, or blended for fun adult beverages.
Papaya's enzymes act as a highly effective meat tenderizer, for that reason they work wonderfully as a marinade for a tough steak or even with chicken.
Frozen papaya can also be added to smoothies or used as ice cubes in drinks.
If you've gotten a partially unripe papaya that is still showing some green, it may ripen more on the counter, but that can be tricky. You can try placing it in a paper bag with an apple to help it ripen a bit more, but keep watch that it doesn't start turning bad. Otherwise, you can eat it as long as it's mostly yellow, it will just lack a bit of flavor.
Ripe papaya should be eaten within 1 or 2 days if stored on the counter, otherwise it will diminish in flavor and go bad.
You can put it whole in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
If you want to freeze it for later use, simply follow the steps above to scoop out the flesh and place it in a plastic bag or container to use in mixed drinks, smoothies, or marinades.
Papaya is another great treat for your dogs. Remove the skin and seeds and serve it to your pup in large chunks. The seeds, like apples, contain trace amounts of cyanide and can be toxic to your furry friend.
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