Scroll down to watch my Papaya 101 video.
Have you been seeing a lot of papayas lately because I feel like I’ve been seeing them everywhere I go! Which gave me reason enough to jump in and do a ‘Papaya 101’.
Papayas are a beautiful tropical fruit that have a soft, buttery texture and a sweet, juicy flavor with a slight musky undertone. The first time I ever ate a papaya that musky flavor caught me a little bit off guard, I was’t expecting it, but I’ve really come to appreciate and love the flavor.
Papayas grow all year round but tend to peak at the beginning of summer and in the fall. And while there are different varieties of papayas (there are yellow papaya and green papaya) the papaya that I’ll be chatting about today is called a Red Papaya.
Nutritionally speaking, papayas are rich in antioxidants, high in fiber, and packed with vitamin A, C + K . They’re also anti-inflammatory, help to support the immune system and contain a powerful digestive enzyme called papain. So not only are they delicious, they’re good for us as well.
When you are shopping for a red papaya, you will notice, they have a long spherical shape, and then can be anywhere from 5-20 inches long.
When a papaya is ripe, the skin will turn from green to a combination of yellow, orange, and/or radish pink.
They will ripen at room temperature, so if you buy a green papaya (which is often how you find them at the store), just leave it on the counter and in a few days, you will notice the color will change and they will be come tender. Ideally when you press the outside of the papaya you want it to have little give, so not too hard but not too mushy either. The feel we’re looking for is similar to a ripe avocado, it should a little indentation when gently pushed.
Once you have your papaya at home, if it needs to ripen you want to leave in a cool dry place, aka, right on your counter. However, if your papaya is already ripe, then you want to store it in the refrigerator, because that will slow down the ripening process so it doesn’t go bad on you to quickly.
Once you are ready to work with your papaya first give it a rinse under some cold water just to clean off the skin and then lay it on its side and gently slice it in half vertically. You are going to see the papaya has a beautiful, rich, coral color and sometimes will even have some pink or yellow hues. In the center there are a bunch of little black seeds that kind of look like peppercorns.
The seeds have a gelatinous coating and inside is the little black seed which is 100% edible. They actually have a peppery flavor. I’ve seen them used to make salad dressings but haven’t experimented with them yet myself.
But whether you plan to eat the seeds or not, you’ll need to scoop them out (they come out very easily). Just grab a spoon and scoop them along with any extra membrane and set them aside. If you plan to use them, keep them, otherwise you can throw them away.
Eating Your Papaya
Many people say, that papaya is just not papaya without a squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top, they seem to be made for each other. So when you are ready to eat your papaya, you can give it a big squish of fresh lime juice over the top, grab a spoon and enjoy!
If you wanted to cut your papaya into smaller pieces to share, you can do it the way many would cut a cantaloupe, simply cut it into edges and then, using a pairing knife, carefully cut the skin off and then cut it into chunks.
Papayas love being paired with citrus, ginger, avocado, fresh back pepper, and pretty much any other tropical fruit. They are delicious in fruit salads and salsas and if you check back in a couple of days, I will be sharing one of my personal favorite papaya salsas with you.
So now I want to hear from you! Have you ever tried a papaya before? If so, whats your favorite way to eat them? Come on down to the comments below and let me know.