A Guide to Eating Papaya: Ripeness Test, Preparation Method & Best Time to Enjoy
Papayas are a delicious tropical fruit that is full of nutrition and particularly good at aiding digestion with their abundant enzyme content.
This article covers how to tell if papaya is ripe, preparing it for eating and the best times to enjoy it for the highest nutritional content.
How to Pick a Ripe Papaya Fruit
You can tell when a papaya is ripening when the skin is more yellowish orange than green. There will also be a light and fragrant smell coming from the top where the stem used to be.
Once fully ripe the fruit will have no green areas and be slightly softer to the touch. At this stage it should be eaten within the next day or two for the best flavor.
Test for ripeness by gently pressing your thumb near the base of the fruit. It should go in a little but still be relatively firm to the touch for the best eating.
What to Avoid
If it’s too soft and has an overpowering sweet smell then the papaya is overripe and should be avoided.
Likewise avoid fruits with heavy bruising and blemishes, though some small indents and minor marks are common and shouldn’t affect the taste.
Ripening at Home
If you are looking for a ripe papaya but can only find green fruits then pick the largest one and take it home.
Let it ripen on your kitchen shelf, preferably in a spot that gets natural light but not a lot of direct sun.
If you’d like to speed up ripening, you can place them in a brown paper bag for a day or two at the most. I also find just keeping unripe papayas next to bananas in a fruit bowl will quicken how fast they become ready to eat.
Don’t refrigerate these fruit until they are fully ripe though. They will never turn orange if you keep them in the fridge.
Preparing for Eating
Start by slicing right down the middle of the fruit on a chopping board. A larger knife is better, but a papaya should cut easily if it is ripe.
If you start and it’s difficult then it’s not ready to eat. You could cover the cut with some cling film and give it an extra day or two to ripen properly.
Once it is split in half, you can scrape out the seeds with a large spoon. The seeds of this tropical fruit are edible, with a crunchy texture and strong peppery taste and they have some unusual benefits of their own.
Keep them in a sealed container in the fridge if you’d like to use them as a natural parasite treatment and internal cleanser. There’s even research showing they could be an effective natural form of male birth control.
Different Ways to Eat Papayas
With the seeds removed, the pulp is ready to be scooped out and eaten.
If the fruit is fully ripe then it should scoop out easily with a spoon and you can enjoy it as simply as this by the spoonful. For an extra touch of presentation try using a melon ball scoop instead.
If you are eating papaya in a fruit salad or another recipe then you can carve out larger portions with a tablespoon onto a chopping board. Next cut the skinless orange pulp into either strips or cubes, depending on how you’d like to eat it.
The skin is also a rich source of enzymes and is useful as a homemade facial treatment. I always eat right down to the fruit’s skin and then keep it in the fridge to use for my face later.
When to Enjoy Papayas for the Most Digestive Benefits
Eating papaya for breakfast makes a refreshing and cleansing way to start the day. Some people like a squeeze of fresh lime or lemon juice over it to add extra tanginess to its natural sweetness.
Due to the way the proteolytic enzymes in papaya help break down and digest proteins, it is also an excellent fruit to have for dessert after a big lunch or dinner, especially any meal with meat.
Be aware though of a few papaya enzyme precautions, especially if you are pregnant or on prescriptions.
There is no need to eat a whole fruit, or even half if you’re saving money (or already full). A quarter should provide substantial digestive benefits and you can store the rest in a sealed container in the fridge for a day or two.
Papaya can be eaten as a nutritious fruit breakfast, a mid afternoon snack or a healthy dessert and tastes great just on its own.
Follow the simple tips above when choosing a ripe papaya and preparing them for eating. They are a very healthy fruit and one well worth enjoying as often as you can.