You might know papaya by its other name, pawpaw. It is a mainstream fruit that has made its way from Central and South America to Miami. The papaya fruit loves the subtropical climate, but you can find it almost everywhere.
People seem to have a love-hate relationship with papaya, and more people are not fond of the smell. The opinions of the public are divided, but if you pick the right fruit and handle it with care, you should have a pretty good experience with the fruit.
What does papaya taste like? Papaya has a unique flavor; its taste can range from mild to somewhat sweet. Depending on how ripe the fruit is, it will have a creamy, buttery texture. You can compare the taste of papaya to sweet carrots or cantaloupe melon. Its texture primarily depends on the ripeness of the fruit. Overripe papaya will be too soft and mushy.
Unripe papaya has little to no flavor, the taste is bland, and the texture is too firm. Papaya has an unpleasant smell due to an enzyme called papain. The smell is more prominent when the fruit is unripe.
Nutritional Benefits of Papaya
When Christoffer Columbus referred to papaya as “the fruit of the angels,” he probably thought of its nutritional benefits. It is so nutrient-dense that it has every right to be considered something angels would eat.
Papaya is excellent for digestive health. It contains a lot of water and fiber, which works like magic, helping food move through the digestive tract. It also has several enzymes that protect the tissues that line the digestive tract and help break down the food we eat—eating papaya half an hour or an hour before a meal will aid healthy digestion and help the body function properly.
Papaya contains loads of vitamin A and antioxidants that help to improve eye health. The antioxidants reduce the degeneration of the retina, while vitamin A helps preserve the cornea. Papaya doesn’t just protect the eyes; it can help improve vision.
The addition of papaya to one’s diet can keep one’s vision perfect and keep the eyesight from deteriorating. The vitamin A in papaya also plays a huge role in maintaining the biggest organ in our body, the skin. If you want to have healthy and glowing skin, you had better include this wonder fruit in your diet.
Papaya can also help with weight loss. It is low in calories, and the presence of fiber makes you feel fuller keeps you from eating as much as you usually would. These natural fibers also detoxify the body, cleansing it and keeping you healthy and fit. Papaya also helps boost immunity; it is a good source of vitamin C, which allows the body to fight everyday illnesses.
Papaya has a lot of other benefits; it helps with diabetes. Even though it is sweet, it contains nutrients that help regulate blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This fruit also helps promote cardiovascular health and is a huge supporter of kidney health due to the healthy dose of potassium.
Culinary Uses of Papaya
The edible flesh of the papaya can range from light orange to a saturated salmon pink which makes it a great aesthetic addition to many fruit salads. Technically, the skin of papaya is edible, but it would be like eating the peel of a banana, so many people don’t bother trying it. Papaya seeds are also edible, they have a crunchy texture and contain a lot of nutrients and fiber, but they should only be taken in small amounts.
You can enjoy papaya on its own. If it is very soft, cut it lengthwise with a sharp knife, scoop out the seeds and get going at the flesh with a spoon. If you have some papaya leftover and don’t know what to do with them, you can try using it in sauces, salsas, soups or stews, salad dressing, or dried fruit jerky.
Papaya makes a great addition to jerky. Papaya can be paired with fruits like kiwi, passion fruit, and mango in a fruit salad.
If you never tried papaya, this delicious Balinese style breakfast is a wonderful way to prepare it!
Where Does Papaya Grow?
Papaya can grow very big. It can grow to be as big as a watermelon. It is a large tropical fruit, and several species are available even though they all look the same. The shape of papaya is best described as pear-shaped. It is native to Central America and tropical regions like India, Brazil, and Indonesia. It grows all year round and can grow anywhere where the soil is sandy and under the right climatic conditions.
Papaya can be harvested when it is unripe or ripe. Unripe papaya has bright green skin; the flesh is tough and almost white. Unripe papaya has found use in many Asian cuisines. As papaya ripens, the skin color changes from bright green to shades of yellow and orange.
Ripe papaya has thick skin, and you can tell ripe from unripe using smell. If it smells fruity, it is ripe. If it doesn’t, you probably shouldn’t try it. Papaya can be easily procured from the produce section of most grocery stores or at the farmers’ market.
How Do You Get Rid of Papaya Smell?
There is an amazingly simple fix for papaya’s unpleasant smell, but it might deny you the original taste and flavor. The addition of lime juice to freshly cut papaya can almost entirely get rid of the papaya smell that many people find repulsive. It also adds a welcome zest to the fruit.
Facts You Don’t Know About Papaya
- Papaya can have brown spots on its skin the older it gets, but it doesn’t indicate that the fruit is overripe, and it doesn’t affect the quality of the pulp.
- Papaya is very perishable, but it can be preserved for about a week in the refrigerator.