Papaw, pawpaw and papaya fruit are just a few of the names given to this tropical American fruit. It’s most commonly referred to as papaya though and originates from southern Mexico and Central America. Categorised as a berry, papaya averages around 15-45cm in length and 10-30cm in diameter. The skin of papaya ranges from yellow to orange and once it is ripe will have a soft texture, not unlike that of an avocado.
Papaya fruit is often considered a fruit of the tropics, home to countries such as the Caribbean and Florida. Although the fruit grows in abundance in warmer climates, they also have a good success rate here in the UK. They are quite hardy and in the right conditions, fruit can grow successfully in the average garden. This fruit is bursting with juice and flavour, making it perfect for a multitude of recipe and snack ideas.
What is Papaya Fruit?
Papaya fruit can be eaten both raw or cooked and has a warm orange flesh full of edible black seeds. The fruit itself tastes juicy and sweet, with a soft texture a bit like that of melon. The seeds have quite a distinct peppery taste but are part of the fruit to be eaten. The fruit is egg-shaped and has a smooth texture on the outside.
Papaya is not a fruit everyone enjoys and some people have said it tastes like vomit. This is due to the enzyme in the fruit called papain but this should only be an issue if the fruit is eaten either past its best or before it’s had time to ripen.
Papaya trees are popular due to the fast rate the fruit is produced. These trees notoriously live fast and die young though, often needing replacing after about 4 years. There is no trunk to speak of either, just a single stem. Papaya fruit can be harvested typically during the Autumn months and will continue to ripen once picked.
3 Interesting Papaya Facts:
- Papaya and pawpaw are often referred to as the same fruit, however, in the US pawpaw is a fruit in its own right.
- The fruit contains an enzyme called papain which is used as a meat tenderiser amongst other things.
- Papaya was referred to as the “fruit of the angels” by Christopher Columbus.
What Does Papaya Fruit Taste Like?
Many people like the taste of papaya to fruits such as cantaloupe melons or even mangoes. They have a sweet flavour, but not overly so. Once papaya is ripened to perfection the texture almost melts in the mouth. It is important to consume papaya at just the right time because it can adopt an unpleasant taste if it is eaten too soon or past its best.
How to Eat Papaya Fruit?
Papaya has a pleasant and juicy taste that can be enjoyed simply as a raw snack. This tropical fruit also makes an interesting addition to fruit or savoury salads or as part of a dessert.
The seeds can be enjoyed with the fruit and make a good texture for drinks such as smoothies. You could, of course, take the seeds out if preferred – you could even plant them. Papaya can be chopped or simply cut the fruit in half and use a spoon to enjoy its contents.
Papaya Knowledge Panel
Scientific Name: Carica Papaya
Fruit Family: Caricaceae
Related to: Pawpaw
How to Grow Papayas
Papaya trees are great for the most inexperienced gardener due to their hardiness in the UK climate. They also require no pruning which is another huge advantage to this species.
The tree will need frost protection and if it is container-grown you can move it indoors during the winter months.
Once the threat of frost has diminished you can place it back outside in plenty of sun and shelter. Ideally, the soil should be loose and moist, with good drainage. Trees come in three sexes – male, female, and hermaphrodite. If your space is limited then be sure to opt for a self-fertile variety.
Harvesting Papaya Fruit
Papayas will be visible from the summertime and the glorious ovoid fruits are ready to harvest during autumn.
They will continue to ripen if they are picked while still a little firm. Timing is everything when it comes to eating papayas to get the best flavours. When it is ready to come off the tree you will find you can twist and pull the fruit off.
How to Use Papaya
Papaya is a versatile fruit that has plenty of culinary uses. In its raw state, it is tasty and easy to eat.
Simply cut the papaya in half and use a spoon to enjoy the flesh. Or you can chop it up to enjoy in a salad, as a snack, or as the topping to a pudding. Papaya can also make a tasty dressing, salsa, smoothies, and ice pops.
- If you aren’t keen on the seeds why not scoop them out and bake them? They can be baked in the oven, then crushed and added as a topping to salads and other food items.
Unsure of what to do with your papaya now you have it? Freezing papaya until you decide how best to use them is a great way of preserving them.
Papaya fruit is highly regarded as a food with many health benefits and nutritious value. Below are some of the main nutritions you will find in Papaya.
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B
How Many Calories in Papaya Fruit?
Papaya has 43 calories per 100g serving, which contains 10.8g of carbohydrates and 1.7g of fibre.
Papaya Health Benefits
People have been eating and enjoying the health benefits of papaya for many years and you often find the fruit in beauty products too.
Helps Prevent Asthma
Certain fruits contain a nutrient called beta-carotene, including papaya, which reduces the risk of developing asthma. Other foods that have this nutrient are carrots, broccoli, apricots and pumpkin.
Reduces Cancer Risk
Again, beta-carotene can also reduce the risk of cancer, especially (according to evidence in studies) prostate cancer.
Papaya can help people with digestive or stomach problems such as constipation and IBS. It’s high in fibre and water content which helps your body to tick over nicely.
Sleeping and Movement
Choline, found in papayas, can help promote a good night’s sleep and also help keep our muscles healthy. It helps to reduce inflammation which is often the cause of muscular problems.
Skin and Hair Treatments
Mashed papaya can be used directly on the skin as part of a beauty routine. It has also been used to treat burns and bedsores. Papaya can be applied to the hair as a conditioner or overnight hair mask to act as a deep moisturiser treatment.
You can eat papaya seeds despite the fact many people assume you cannot. They are very nutritious as well so to get the full benefit of the fruit you should consume the seeds as well.
The skin of papaya is technically edible but does contain latex which can hinder your usual digestive process. It’s also not very palatable and as with oranges and bananas, you should remove the skin before eating.
Papaya, due to the presence of many small seeds, is classed as a berry fruit, not a stone fruit. Berry fruit is indicative of all fruits that contain no stone such as oranges, grapes, and raspberries.