A perfectly ripened papaya features a musky but sweet, almost mango-like flavor. Underripe fruits can taste bland and are best suited for use in cooked sauces and marinades, where they can help tenderize meat while adding some flavor to the sauce. Diced or cubed, ripe papayas make a tropical addition to salads, fruit salsas or dessert toppings. Properly seeding, peeling and cutting the fruit allows you to quickly cut it into an even dice.
Set the papaya on the cutting board. Slice it in half lengthwise, using a sharp chef's knife.
Scoop the black seeds from the center of each papaya half with a spoon. Discard the seeds or save them to use as a peppery addition to a salad dressing.
Set each papaya half cut side-down on the cutting board. Pull the peel off each half, beginning at the edge of the fruit half and pulling backward.
Slice the papaya into strips, cutting it lengthwise. Cut the strips so they are about 1/2 inch wide.
Slice the strips widthwise, spacing the cuts 1/2 inch apart so you end up with 1/2-inch cubes. You can adjust the size of the cubes as desired.
Unripened papayas are only suitable for cooking and not for fresh use. To ripen a papaya, store the fruit at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer for about two weeks, or until the fruit softens and the skin develops a yellow blush.