A papaya is a fruit grown in tropical climates around the world. With their sweet taste, soft texture, bright colors and range of health benefits, this is a fruit that you will want to incorporate into your diet.
When papaya was originally grown in Central America, indigenous people would often eat papayas and use them for medicinal purposes, due to the vast amount of minerals, vitamins, fiber and folic acid found in the fruit.
Colonizers then took the seeds of the papaya and planted them around the globe, so this fruit can be found in Hawaii, India, Australia, South America and Africa.
If you want to add papaya into your diet, then you should know all of the health benefits of the fruit, how to cut it, and how to tell if it is ripe. Find out in our simple papay guide, here!
Benefits of eating papaya
Papaya has been eaten for years, as it has a range of health benefits. For instance, the papaya is full of natural and powerful antioxidants which can reduce oxidative stress and lower the risk of several diseases and health issues.
Many people stand by papaya as a useful fruit that can help improve digestion, and even be a remedy for symptoms of IBS. This is because of the papain enzyme in the papaya, which breaks down proteins, making them much easier to digest.
Other studies show that papaya can be beneficial for those who are being treated for cancer. Studies suggest that with its antioxidant properties, papaya could potentially help slow the progression of cancer in some people.
In addition, papaya can improve heart health, being high in lycopene and vitamin C which can work to prevent heart disease and enhance good cholesterol.
These minerals also help to promote healthy skin and reduce the visible signs of ageing. With all of the benefits in mind, you will want to enjoy some papaya for yourself, but first, you should know how to cut a papaya.
How to cut a papaya
If you want to incorporate papaya into your diet and into your recipes, then you will need to know exactly how to cut it up. Luckily, we are here to help you! To cut up a papaya, you will more than likely need a sharp knife.
With the sharp knife, first trim off the ends of the fruit, as you will not want to eat those! Next, use the knife to cut the papaya in half down the middle, but lengthwise.
With each half of the papaya, you will want to use a spoon to scrape away the seeds, and remove any pulp from the inside of the fruit.
Try not to scrape too hard, or you may be pulling away at some of the flesh, and you do not want to do that! The more fruit, the merrier!
Then, using a vegetable peeler, remove all of the skin from the papaya. You should now have a naked looking fruit!
Once you have removed all of the skin from the papaya, you will need to cut each of the halves lengthwise, so that you are left with long strips of papaya. Then, you can chop into the long strips, so that you have cube shaped bites ready to enjoy.
To store your cut up papaya, it is recommended to store it in an airtight container, and keep it in the refrigerator. This is so you can enjoy its delicious, sweet and soft flavor for up to 3 days after it has been cut.
How do you know when a papaya is ripe?
The best time to eat a papaya is when you notice that the skin is turning from green to a yellow tone. If the papaya is ripe, then you will find it easy to press your thumb or finger into the flesh without resistance.
For the most part, papaya will ripen within a few days, and will start to turn yellow as it ripens.
If you need to ripen your papayas quickly, then it is best to keep them in a paper bag with ethylene producing fruits such as apples or bananas, as this will speed up the ripening process.
For the best time to eat a papaya, you should look to see if it is around 80% yellow. This is the peak time to eat ripe papaya.
However, you can eat a papaya when it is not ripe, but it is best to cook it first as an unripe papaya can contain papaya latex, which includes an enzyme known as papain, which can be dangerous to consume.
Best way to eat papaya
If you want to get some of your five a day, and you just want to eat papaya fruit, then we recommend sprinkling a little lime juice over it.
This will give the fruit the perfect balance of sweetness and zestiness that you will not be able to resist. The lime also works to eliminate the strong smell of papaya that is off-putting for some people!
Why does my papaya smell bad?
Some people are turned sick by the smell of papaya, but surprisingly, this does not mean that your papaya is off, or has gone bad. As previously mentioned, papaya is made up of an enzyme called papain, which is like a digestive enzyme that breaks down proteins.
This is similar to the enzymes in the stomach that break down food, which is why the smell of a freshly cut papaya can remind us of being sick!
However, if you cut open a papaya, and the flesh is not bright, golden yellow, and is instead dark, mushy and brown, then it may have gone bad and you should not eat it.