Tropical Techniques: How To Store And Prepare Papaya

Ripeness and quality are especially important when it comes to papaya. You never want an under or over-ripe papaya, as the flavor can range from being almost nonexistent to overtly musky. To fully appreciate the buttery sweetness and soft texture of papaya, follow along with this guide.

Change Color

Upon receiving papaya, you can do a quick test by observing the color. Both the popular Hawaiian variety and the larger Caribbean variety should be mostly yellow, but may have small splotches of green. The skin should always be smooth too, as it becomes wrinkled when overaged.

  • Pro Tip: Smell is another immediate indicator of ripeness. If your fruit looks yellow but smells overtly sweet, there’s a chance it could be past its prime.

Be Gentle

If you’ve received fruit that seems to have the right color and aroma, you can use your thumb to get a second opinion. Your finger should be able to make a small indentation, but there should still be some slight pressure. However, be cautious when using this technique, as the flesh of papaya bruises easily.

Mindful Neighbors

Papaya produces a high amount of ethylene, so it should be stored away from ethylene sensitive produce like avocados. Store unripe papayas on the counter for a few days in order to help them age properly. Then move them to the refrigerator once ripe, where they can last up to a week.

  • Pro Tip: When storing, do not wash until immediately before serving.

Preparation Pro

Once your fruit is perfectly ripe and ready to be served, you will need both a knife and spoon. First halve the papaya, then scoop out the black seeds with your spoon. Be sure to use your sharpest knife though, as the soft fruit can make it hard to get a smooth cut. After these steps, we’d recommend slicing into quarters before peeling the inedible skin.

Save The Seeds

When consumed in small amounts, papaya seeds have strong anti-inflammatory properties. They’re totally edible and filled with antioxidants, but can have a sharp, somewhat peppery flavor. We’d recommend including a couple seeds in a zesty salad dressing.