I really enjoy eating my favorite fruits as well as testing new ones, that I haven’t eaten before. Next up on my list is the amazing and very popular papaya also known as the “pawpaw.”
In this post, you will learn where they come from and where they grow, how to eat papaya, what the health benefits of the papaya are, what they are used for, and what they taste like.
Join with me as we dive into the wonderful world that is papaya!
Where does the papaya come from and where does it grow?
The papaya or pawpaw is an amazing fruit that grows on a papaya tree. They are native to Mexico and parts of northern South America.
They have long since been cultivated in many countries around the world in tropical and subtropical areas like the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, India, to name a few.
Here in the United States they are grown in Hawaii, Florida, Texas, Southern California, and hobbyists even grown them in their backyard here in Phoenix, Arizona.
The papaya itself looks kind of like a melon and varies in size from smallish to quite large. And botanically, it is classified as a berry, although we don’t normally see it as one.
Papayas grow on trees that average 10 to 15 feet tall. They are incredibly fast growing although relatively short-lived for a tree, they only live up to 20 years.
Papayas are fairly easy to grow if placed in full sun in well-drained soil, in warm to hot climates. They grow pretty well from seed or you can find them sold at nurseries.
What are the health benefits of papaya?
The papaya is an extremely healthy fruit to eat. It is loaded with nutritional benefits. Here are a few of them:
- Loaded with antioxidants
- Has anticancer properties
- High in Fiber
- Very high in Vitamin C
- High in Vitamin A
- Good source of Folate and Potassium
- May improve hearth health and fight inflammation
There are many more benefits that you can find in this healthline.com article.
How to cut and eat papaya?
The papaya can be cut and eaten when it is green and when it is ripe. It is ripe when it is softer to the touch and almost completely yellow.
Wash it well with water on the outside then take a knife and cut down the middle. Very similar to eating most melons.
You will notice several tiny black seeds that look like the size of peppercorns. The inside kind of reminds me of a cantaloupe. The seeds are edible but are kind of bitter. You can rinse and dry the seeds then grind them up and use it in place of pepper. Or eat them whole scattered on other food.
Scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Save them for planting, eating, or throw them away.
You can just scoop out the inside now with a spoon and eat it that way. Or you can slice it lengthwise and eat it with your hands. Very similar to eating a melon.
Although the unripe papaya can be eaten, it is best to cook it first because it has a high latex content. Some cultures will julienne the green papaya and pickle it. Some won’t even cook it and cut in thin and serve it in a salad.
The ripe papaya with its juicy flesh is eaten as is or with yogurt and berries. It can be made into a salsa as well with onions, tomatoes, etc. Some people love to put it in their smoothies or chop it up and serve it with avocado on a salad.
What does papaya taste like?
Ripe papayas are very juicy with a sweet flavor and creamy texture. It is softer than a melon. I am reminded of a mix between a cantaloupe and mango or maybe a mix between a pumpkin and cantaloupe.
To me they are quite delicious and refreshing. I can see why they are commonly added to smoothies.
If you haven’t tried a papaya before, make sure to pick one up the next time you see them in the store, or head to an Asian supermarket, I am sure they will sell them there. Enjoy!
Now watch the video where I talk all about this incredible fruit.
Here are some recipes and other information you may find interesting: