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Hello Papaya, a Delicious and Healthy Fruit

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A while back, I received an email from a fresh produce marketer about a delicious papaya variety from Mexico – Sensation Papaya. She asked me if I was interested in tasting the fruit. She told me that this papaya is super sweet and even tastier than the Maradol papaya, in her opinion. I was very excited. Papayas are definitely on my list of favorite fruits. (On top of that list, is the durian.) I happily accepted her offer and in a couple weeks, a box of fresh papayas arrived at my door.

About the Sensation Papaya:
“Sandwiched on Central Mexico’s West coast between the states of Jalisco and Michoacan is the tiny state of Colima. Located in this state is the small farming town of Tecoman, where the Sensation Papaya is grown. Available exclusively from Fresh Tex Produce, the Sensation Papaya is a very unique, red fleshed papaya that boasts some different characteristics than the more well known varieties like the Maradol.
One important characteristic is the Sensation’s aroma. The Sensation Papaya’s aroma is more smooth and seductive when compared to its counterparts and provides an attractive smell to any recipe or when eaten by itself. This variety is also one of the sweetest varieties because the level of brix average above 14 on a consistent basis. But probably one of the most unique characteristics of the Sensation Papaya is its longevity compared to other varieties with at least twice the shelf life of its competitors.”

The papayas arrived and they were very close to ripe. The papayas were huge and had a good weight too! Immediately, we picked up the ripest one and started cutting it up into chunks. The flesh had a really nice orange color and looked real juicy. We enjoyed them as is. They were so fresh and sweet, adding anything else to it would just not be fair (at least not for the first taste).

While on the topic of papayas, let me amuse you with some general info on papayas and other serving suggestions.

About the papaya:
Although papayas are in their peak season from June to September, you can find them at supermarkets all year around.
There’s two main varieties of papayas – Hawaiian papayas and Mexican papayas. The Hawaiian ones tend to be smaller, somewhat pear-shaped, about a pound in weight. The Mexican ones tend to be much larger and heavier. Papayas have yellow skin when ripe and the flesh is orange or pinkish, depending on variety. Ripe papayas are usually enjoyed raw. Unripe green papayas can be enjoyed raw or cooked, sometimes in a salad, stew, or stir-fry.

What to look for in a payaya:
Unless you’re purposely looking for a green papaya, pick a papaya that are fairly large, with skin that is mostly yellow, blemish-free, and slightly soft. Avoid ones that are too soft or have many bruises. If it has a strong sweet smell, the papaya is overripe. If you buy one that is more green than yellow and firm, it’ll take it a few days to ripen.

How to store this papaya after you bring it home:
Unripe papayas can be kept at room temperature for up to 1-2 weeks. Slightly green papayas will ripen at room temperature in about 2-3 days. To speed up the process, you can put them in a paper bag. Ripe papayas should be put in the refrigerator, in a plastic bag, to slow down the ripening process. Ripe papayas will last up to a week, but best if enjoyed within a couple of days. You can also freeze the papaya to enjoy later, in a smoothie perhaps. Peel the papaya, cup it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, and cut the papaya into cubes. Freeze the papaya chunks on a cookie tray. Once frozen, transfer pieces into a freezer bag or airtight container.

What is good about the papaya:
Other than being sweet and delicious, papayas are also very nutritious. They are filled with vitamins, antioxidants, potassium, and fiber. They promote cardiovascular health and digestive health. The papaya contains papain, a natural enzyme that can be found in digestive aids/supplements and also used as a meat tenderizer. Papain levels are generall high in the unripe fruit.

How to enjoy papaya:
There are so many ways to enjoy a papaya. I’m not even sure where to start, but here’s a few simple yet fun ideas.

  • Cut the papaya into chunks and enjoy it as is. If you like, sprinkle some fresh lime juice on it.
  • Add papaya to your fruit salad. Some fruits that go well with papayas include mangos, kiwis, and berries.
  • Put it in a blender and make papaya juice.
  • Put it in a blender with a few other additions and make a delicious smoothie!
  • Try combining papaya, strawberries, yogurt, and some mint leaves. Or, blend together papaya, peach, plain soy milk, honey, and ginger.
  • Slice papayas and serve along with fish or meats, as an edible garnish.
  • Make a delicious salsa, chutney, or jam with papaya. Mix diced papaya, cilantro, and ginger to make a light salsa to accompany fish.
  • Something like basil, cilantro, mint, or rosemary goes really well with papaya flavor.
  • Turn it into a marinade, sauce, salad dressing.
  • Blend it with peanut butter and make a papaya spread.
  • Make dessert with papaya. Pudding, ice cream, or yogurt.

Did you know that the papaya seeds are actually edible too?
I’ve accidentally ate a few seeds before, but never thought about using it in a recipe or anything. The seeds have a sharp and peppery flavor to it. After talking with a few folks, I found out that they can be grounded and used like black pepper or blended to make a peppery salad dressing. Interesting!

I tried making a salad dressing by combining about 2 tbsp papaya seeds with approx. 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp olive oil, and a little bit of minced onion and garlic. I blended everything in a small food processor, until the papaya seeds looked like ground pepper. It made a nice and creamy dressing, sweet and peppery at the same time. I stored it in the fridge and it was good for about a week. Next time I cut open a papaya, I won’t let the seeds so to waste.

Anyway, be on the look out for the Sensation Papaya! I’ve been seeing them in various supermarkets and local fruit stands. It’s definitely worth a try!

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0 Comments

  1. molly

    July 17, 2011 at 11:23 am

    I wouldn’t break papaya down to Hawaiian and Mexican. It’s more small and large. Some large- like the Mexican papaya – have a musky taste and smell. But others from Belize and other Central American countries are sweet and definitely don’t have that musky aura to them.

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