How to Use Papayas

How to Use Papayas. Christopher Columbus referred to the papaya as "fruit of the angel." The two varieties are the Hawaiian and the Mexican. The Hawaiian is smaller with a more intense flavor than the Mexican papaya and is the one you see most often in stores. They are both delicious and nutritious when eaten alone or in a papaya recipe. Here are some tips on how to use papayas.

Choose a papaya that has a yellow-green color (mostly yellow) and that gives in to slight pressure, but isn't soft. It won't have a smell unless you cut it, but when cut open, the papaya flesh smells sweet, not fermented. Avoid bruised or overly soft fruit or fruit that's under ripe. Under ripe papaya is firm, dark green and has high latex content, making it unsafe to eat.

Store papayas at about 45 degrees F for up to 3 weeks after you purchase them. Dark fruit doesn't ripen after it comes off the tree, but yellow-green fruit will ripen further until it's almost completely yellow. Hasten the ripening process by placing the papayas in a brown paper bag with a banana for a few days. Ripe fruit will last for a week in the refrigerator.

Wash your fruit and cut it open lengthwise. Scoop the seeds out and discard them. Add a few to a creamy salad dressing, or you may just want to eat them whole. The seeds are edible and have an interesting peppery taste. After scooping out the seeds, scoop the flesh out with a melon baller or peel and cube it to use in your favorite papaya recipe.

Eat papaya fresh, cut into wedges and topped with a squeeze of lemon or lime or add them to other fruits for a colorful fruit salad. They are especially good with strawberries, bananas and kiwis. Papaya has been pickled, preserved, frozen and baked, but most of the time it is served fresh in cubes, balls or wedges. The firm ripe papaya is seasoned and baked like a vegetable in some cultures, and the overly ripe fruits are best for making sauces for cakes and ice cream.

Think about using papaya in the blender with strawberries and yogurt for a healthy smoothie. Papaya salsa is a cool side dish for seafood and includes only a few fresh ingredients.

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