Papayas are a wonderfully sweet and juicy fruit. They are packed full of health benefits. Most of the health benefits are found where you might not expect them. Papayas most likely originated in South America and were named “the fruit of angels” by Christopher Columbus. Surely you want to get your hands on this fruit with a name like that. So when are papayas in season?
Papayas are commercially harvested in the early summer. However, if papaya is grown in a warm climate and watered properly, it can produce fruit all year. Papayas harvested in the early summer will taste the sweetest due to their higher sugar content.
When Are Papayas In Season?
Papayas start flowering in the spring and will be ready to harvest in the summer and fall. Although Papayas are thought to have originated in South America, they are now commercially farmed in Hawaii and California.
Papayas have green and yellow skins when they are ripe and are orange, yellow, or pinkish inside. The main variety of papaya that you can find is the Hawaiian papaya. This papaya is shaped like a pear and has a delicious, sweet taste. You can also find the Mexican variety; however, they are not as popular. These are much larger papayas, but they do not taste as sweet as the Hawaiian variety.
When Is A Papaya Ready To Be Harvested?
Papayas are ready to be harvested once their skin changes from green to yellow. Ideally, you should pick your papaya when ½ to ¾ of the fruit has changed color. At this time, the papaya will be at its best. Papayas start to ripen at the bottom, with the part closest to the tree ripening last.
The papaya can then be left to ripen fully in a paper bag in a cool, dark area in your home. You should keep a close eye on maturing papayas as they can overripen easily. If you cut into papaya and it smells fermented or sour, it is overripe and should not be eaten.
You should avoid picking any papayas that are still fully green and hard to the touch because they will not ripen correctly. A papaya that is ready to be harvested will give when it is pressed.
Once you have determined which papayas are ready to pick, you can use scissors or a knife to cut the papaya off the tree. If the papaya is fully ripe when you harvest it, the fruit can be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag for two to three days.
Can You Eat Under-Or-Over Ripe Papayas?
You should not eat under-ripe papayas. If you cut into green papaya, you will see white, milky liquid running out of it. This is one indication that the fruit is not ready to be eaten yet. In addition, green papayas contain a lot more papain than ripe papayas. Papain is an enzyme that can be used to tenderize meat.
The amount of papain can cause damage to your esophagus. Furthermore, green papayas taste awful. Therefore, if you want to eat papaya while it is still green, you must cook it first.
Overripe papaya is safe to eat. However, the texture will not be pleasant as the fruit will become very mushy. You can use overripe papayas in smoothies or freeze them to make a coulis. Take note that the papain in fresh papaya will dissolve any gelatin. Therefore, you cannot use fresh papaya to make jelly.
If the papaya has bad spots, blemishes, or smells fermented when you cut it open, it means that the papaya is going bad. In this case, you should not eat papaya.
How Do You Prepare A Papaya Fruit For Eating?
When you have deliciously fresh papaya, you will probably want to eat it. To prepare papaya for eating, follow these steps:
- First, cut off the ends of the papaya and then cut it lengthwise in half.
- Peel the papaya. A vegetable peeler works great for papaya as the skin is not very thick. If the papaya is a bit overripe, use a knife instead.
- You will see that most papayas have a cavity filled with black seeds. Scoop these out and save them for later. There are no black seeds in some cases and only soft, white seeds.
- Now, you can cut up your papaya and serve it.
Papaya is best served cold. It is delicious on its own or can be used in fruit salads or desserts. You can also freeze your papaya to use in smoothies. Papaya pulp is an excellent remedy for stomachache and constipation.
Can You Eat Papaya Seeds?
The papaya fruit is filled with many black seeds that are covered in a soft, gel-like casing. Although they look a bit alien, papaya seeds are edible. Not only are they edible, but they are packed with nutrients and health benefits. They are a fantastic aid for constipation and are great for your overall digestive health.
Papaya seeds also contain papain, which can help to digest meat. They do have a bitter, peppery taste, though. You can pop a spoonful of papaya seeds into your mouth and swallow it like medicine. Or you can rinse them off and add them to salads for a peppery crunch.
Papaya seeds don’t keep well because of their casing. Therefore, it is best to eat them as soon as you cut open the papaya. If you wish to store the papaya seeds, you can wash off the outer casing and allow the seeds to air dry before storing them in a zip-lock bag in the fridge.
Can You Eat Papaya Skin?
Papaya skin is not toxic to humans. However, the skin of papaya does contain latex, which can upset the stomach. Therefore, it is best to avoid eating the skin.
You can add the skin to a compost heap. Or you can apply the papaya skin to a wound to help it heal faster. This is a folk remedy that has been used for many years. Papaya skin can also be applied to sunburned areas or mixed into a DIY face mask to help reduce blemishes.
Papaya is a great fruit. Not only is it insanely delicious, but every part of the papaya can be used. Perhaps this is why Columbus called it “the fruit of angels.”