How to Eat Papaya: Recipes and Tips

  • Zeina Al-AitMaster's degree, Computer Software Engineering, Lebanese University - Faculty of Sciences
  • Saira LoaneMaster's of Toxicology, Institute of Biomedical Research, University of Birmingham
  • Humna Maryam IkramBS, Pharmacology, University of Dundee, Scotland, UK

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Think about a world where everything comes in different shapes, colours, tastes, and nutritional values. Tropical fruits embody this diversity perfectly, each varying in colour and nutritional goodness. In this article, we will dive into the world of papaya.

Originating from Central America, the papaya is a fruit packed with goodness.1 It has an oval shape, with yellow or green skin and plenty of small, dark seeds. Inside, it’s red and full of juice, a bit like peaches.1 Its taste is sweet and gentle. One of its standout features is its richness in papain, an enzyme that brings along many health benefits.

We’ll explore how to eat it in various ways, discover its incredible health benefits, and share some easy recipes. Keep reading to learn more about this amazing fruit!

Selecting papayas

The primary tip and initial consideration are to determine whether the fruit is ready to be eaten immediately or needs time to ripen. We’ll also explore methods for storing it.

Green to ripe papayas

Green papaya has a milder taste compared to ripe papaya. It’s less sweet and a bit bitter or bland. Its texture is firmer and crunchier, often used in savoury dishes or salads where it can soak up other flavours.

When picking a ripe papaya at the store or market, look for one that’s got a bright colour, like orange, and feels a bit soft when you gently press it.2 Stay away from papayas that have bruises or very soft spots. A ripe papaya should have smooth skin and smell sweet near the stem. If it’s big, it might taste milder, but the smaller ones can be more intense in flavour. So, find the one that feels a bit soft, smells sweet, and looks colourful for a tasty and ready-to-eat papaya.

Dried papayas

Dried papayas are a tasty and convenient way to enjoy this fruit. They’re typically available in many grocery stores, health food shops, and online retailers. You can often find them in the dried fruit section or alongside other dried snacks. Dried papaya retains the sweetness of the fruit but in a chewy, preserved form. It’s a great option for snacking, adding to trail mixes, or incorporating baked goods like cookies or granola bars. Look for dried papaya that’s free from added sugars or preservatives for a healthier choice.

Preparing papayas

Now that you’ve got your papaya, let’s learn how to enjoy it, keep it fresh, and make the most of this tasty fruit. Stick around to discover all these tips!

Step-by-step guide on how to cut and peel a papaya

  • First, put your papaya on a stable cutting board. Use a sharp knife to cut off both ends — make them flat. Then, slice the papaya in half lengthwise
  • Next, use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulpy bits from each half. You can toss the seeds or save them for smoothies or as a garnish
  • Place one half of the papaya, with the cut side down, on the cutting board. Use a peeler or a knife to take off the skin. Repeat this with the other half
  • Now, cut your papaya into the shapes you want. You can make half-moon slices or longer strips. You can even line up the strips and chop them into chunks, cubes, or smaller pieces3

How to store your papayas

To make your papaya last longer, you can put the whole fruit in the fridge. Wrap it in a paper towel or a plastic bag to soak up extra moisture. This helps it stay fresh for a few more days. But remember, being in the fridge might make it a bit softer.4 If you like it firmer, just leave it at room temperature. Keeping your papaya cool helps it stay tasty until you’re ready to eat.4

Papaya recipes

Next up, we’ll explore the numerous ways to enjoy this tasty fruit in yummy recipes.

Fresh papaya jam

Instructions:

The preparation time takes around 45 minutes, followed by a cooking duration of about 20 minutes. You’ll need an additional 4 hours for some extra steps. In total, expect a time of approximately 5 hours and 5 minutes. This recipe yields around 64 servings or fills about 4 pint jars.5

Ingredients:

The recipe calls for 5 cups of mashed ripe papaya, ¼ cup of orange juice, 1 ⅓ packages (each 1.75 ounces) of dry pectin, and 5 cups of white sugar.5

Steps:

Combine the mashed papaya, orange juice, and pectin in a large pot on medium-high heat, stirring until it starts boiling. Maintain a constant stir as it heats. Once boiling, add the sugar and continue stirring, bringing it back to a boil. Once boiling again, set a timer for precisely 1 minute.5

Using a ladle, pour the hot jam into hot, sterilised canning jars, sealing them with lids and rings. Let the jars cool to room temperature, and refrigerate any jars that don’t seal properly.5

Mango papaya salsa

Instructions:

The preparation time for this dish is around 15 minutes, with an additional waiting period of about 30 minutes. In total, expect a cooking time of approximately 45 minutes. This recipe yields 8 servings, providing enough for 8 people.6

Ingredients:

Begin by preparing your ingredients: peel, seed, and dice 1 mango and 1 papaya. Additionally, dice a large red bell pepper, peel and pit 1 avocado, and chop half a sweet onion. Combine these ingredients in a bowl, and then add 2 tablespoons each of fresh cilantro and balsamic vinegar. Finally, season with salt and pepper to your liking. Enjoy this flavorful and refreshing fruit salad.6

Steps:

Mix diced mango, papaya, red bell pepper, avocado, sweet onion, cilantro, and balsamic vinegar in a bowl. Add salt and pepper for taste. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving. Enjoy.6

Papaya boat

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe papaya
  • 2 cups Daiya Greek Yogurt Alternative (2 single serving containers)
  • Assorted fresh fruit
  • Chia seeds, flax seeds, or pepitas
  • Honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, or coconut syrup7

Instructions:

  • Begin by cutting the ripe papaya in half lengthwise and scooping out the black seeds, discarding them
  • Fill each papaya half with one container of the yoghourt alternative
  • Top the yoghourt-filled papayas with your preferred assortment of fresh fruit
  • Sprinkle a choice of seeds (chia, flax, or pepitas) over the fruit and generously drizzle with honey or any desired syrup7

Notes:

  • For the freshest taste, assemble your papaya breakfast boats just before serving
  • To prepare fruit in advance, store it under damp paper towels in the refrigerator. Assemble the papaya with yoghourt and toppings right before serving to maintain freshness7

Papaya pecan streusel cake

Pecan streusel:

  • Combine 1¼ cups plain flour and ¾ cup firmly packed brown sugar in a bowl
  • Add ½ cup chilled butter (cut into small cubes) and rub through with your fingers until it looks like fine breadcrumbs
  • Mix in roughly chopped pecans, then refrigerate the mixture until needed8

Papaya cake:

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and prepare a 23cm (9-inch) round cake tin by greasing and lining it
  • In a large bowl, cream together ½ cup room temperature butter and ¾ cup caster sugar until light and pale. Add 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste and mix well
  • Beat in 2 eggs, one at a time
  • Mix in 1½ cups mashed papaya until thoroughly combined
  • Gradually add 1½ cups self-raising flour and ¼ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, mixing well after each addition8

Assembly:

  • Pour half of the cake mixture into the prepared tin and sprinkle half of the streusel mixture on top
  • Carefully spread the remaining cake mixture over the streusel layer and top it with the rest of the streusel mixture
  • Bake for 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean
  • Let the cake cool in the tin for 10 minutes before carefully removing it to cool on a rack8

Serving:

  • Serve the cake warm with ice cream, cold with unsweetened whipped cream, or enjoy it just as it is8

Notes:

  • All measurements are based on Australian metric standards
  • Teaspoon = 5ml, Tablespoon = 20ml, Cup = 250ml, 4 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon8

Summary 

This article is your go-to guide for all things papaya. It covers everything from picking the perfect fruit to storing it, plus easy ways to cut and use papaya in recipes like jam, salsa, and even a delicious cake. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned papaya enthusiast, this guide has tips and recipes to make your papaya experience enjoyable and flavorful!

References 

  1. Exotic Fruit Box [Internet]. [cited 2023 Nov 30]. Papaya Do you want to know more about papaya? Come in! Available from: https://exoticfruitbox.com/en/tropical-fruits/papaya-fruit/
  2. Allrecipes [Internet]. [cited 2023 Dec 1]. How to tell if a papaya is ripe. Available from: https://www.allrecipes.com/how-to-tell-if-papaya-is-ripe-7571550
  3. Food Network [internet]. [cited 2023 May 16]. How to cut papaya. Available from:https://www.foodnetwork.com/how-to/packages/food-network-essentials/how-to-cut-papaya
  4. Kristina. How to store papaya [Internet]. Savory Suitcase. 2023 [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from: https://www.savorysuitcase.com/how-to-store-papaya/
  5. Allrecipes [Internet]. [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Fresh papaya jam. Available from: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/162151/fresh-papaya-jam/
  6. Allrecipes [Internet]. [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Mango papaya salsa. Available from: https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/37067/mango-papaya-salsa/
  7. Moran S. Papaya boats [Internet]. The View from Great Island. 2017 [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from: https://theviewfromgreatisland.com/papaya-breakfast-boats-recipe/
  8. McCleary S. When the tropics meet autumn, papaya pecan streusel cake [Internet]. Belly Rumbles. 2017 [cited 2023 Dec 1]. Available from: https://bellyrumbles.com/papaya-pecan-streusel-cake/

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Zeina Al-Ait

Master's degree, Computer Software Engineering, Lebanese University - Faculty of Sciences

Zeina Al-Ait is a computer science graduate with expertise in health, particularly diabetes. She has authored several articles on this subject, emphasizing diabetes awareness and challenging conventional health perspectives. Zeina is currently pursuing studies in bioinformatics to expand her knowledge in the field.

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