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Papayas – The ones found in American markets are usually about 7 inches long with flesh that is a rich orange color with either yellow or pink hues. The fruit contains papain, an enzyme that helps digest proteins. Papain is more concentrated in the fruit when it is unripe.

How to buy/store: Papayas that have reddish orange skin and are slightly soft to to the touch are ready to be eaten. Papayas that are partially yellow should be left at room temperature when they will ripen in a few days. To speed up the ripening process put them in a paper bag with a banana. Ripe papayas should be stored in the refrigerator and should be consumed in 1-2 days for maximum flavor.

How to use: Like mangoes, papayas are a great addition to a fruit plate or salad. Papayas can also be used as a raw purée in a sauce to marinate and tenderize meat. It contains an enzyme (papayin) which is the main ingredient in most commercial meat tenderizers, and because of this you should always wear gloves or wash your hands immediately after handling the flesh, as it can cause skin to peel after just a few minutes of exposure. Flavor wise it is best paired with lime.

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