Sweet, buttery, deep-orange flesh, and incredibly nutritious, papayas are a fruit you need to include in your diet. You may be wondering how to clean papaya properly, well in this blog post I’m going to show you how in just a few simple steps.
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What Is Papaya
The fruit of angels is what Christopher Columbus called papaya and if you’re a fan you’ll surely understand why.
I believe that papaya is one of those fruits you’ll either love or not enjoy at all.
Papaya is a tropical fruit native to Southern Mexico and Central America. From these regions it was then exported to other tropical climates and areas of the World by the Spanish and Portuguese. Thankfully papaya is now easily found at markets and grocery stores all over the World.
Papayas have a green outer skin when unripe and it changes into and orange or golden yellow color when fully ripened. Thai green papaya is unripe and tastes and feels completely different than sweet ripe papaya.
Depending on the variety, a papaya can measure 7 to 20 inches long (or 18 to 50 centimeters), and they can weigh anywhere from one pound (half a kilo) to several pounds or kilos.
Hawaiian papaya tends to be smaller and rounder than the longer and heavier Mexican varieties. I personally prefer the Mexican maradol papaya because I find the taste sweeter and the smell less pungent, but others may not agree with me.
Currently Mexico, Puerto Rico and the American state of Hawaii are the biggest producers and exporters of papaya.
You can buy fresh papaya in Mexican or Hispanic grocery stores, Asian markets, and some regular grocery stores also carry it now too.
How to Choose The Best Fresh Papaya
A fresh and ready to eat papaya will have a strong scent that is sweet, tropical, fruity, and it’s really a unique smell that only papayas have and you’ll learn to recognize.
Papaya that’s ready to eat immediately have a bright orange skin, a fragrant smell, and feel a little soft when touched, but make sure it isn’t too soft or mushy.
Unripe papaya will have green or greenish-yellow skin, be firm to the touch, and not have much of a scent to it.
Make sure to avoid those with dark bruising or black spots on the skin. The papaya you see here is a Mexican papaya variety and it is very much ripe and ready to eat.
If you buy an unripened papaya you can speed up the ripening process by placing it in a paper bag and letting it sit on the counter for a day or so. Another method is to leave it near a window in direct sunlight to ripen quicker. Check on it to see the progress.
If you want a further guide on choosing papayas, read this article “How to Choose a Papaya That’s Not Genetically Modified”
Is Papaya Good For You?
Why yes it is!
Papaya is loaded with antioxidants, Vitamin C, has a good amount of both Vitamin B and A. It is rich in folate, potassium, cooper, magnesium and dietary fiber.
All of those great healthy qualities mean that papaya is:
- good for your heart
- helps in lowering inflammation (good for those with arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis)
- will help stabilize blood sugar levels (good for diabetics)
- helps improve your complexion or give you better skin
- it will also nourish your hair
- Papaya is also very good for your digestive system as it helps to fight off parasitic worms.
Another amazing thing about papaya is that it has been shown to protect against colon cancer, “Papaya’s fiber is able to bind to cancer-causing toxins in the colon and keep them away from the healthy colon cells.”
The Easiest Way to Clean a Papaya
Make sure to watch the video in the recipe card for clear visual instructions.
If you don’t feel like practicing your cutting knife skills, then you can use a vegetable peeler instead.
Additionally you’ll need a bowl to place the papaya in – or an airtight container to store it for later.
Please be very careful cutting into the papaya with a knife because it can move around a bit! Slowly and a firm grip on the papaya for safety.
Step 1: After rinsing and thoroughly drying the papaya place it on a steady cutting board. Begin slicing moving lengthwise the entire length down the papaya and slice all the way through.
Once sliced open the papaya will reveal a bright orange-yellow flesh and lots of little black seeds in the center. Though occasionally you may get a papaya without any seeds and even ones that have sprouted.
Step 2: Use a spoon to scrape out the papaya seeds. You can save or discard them, more on that below.
Step 3: Place the flat side of the papaya on your work surface and using the knife, working form one end to another, run it just underneath the papaya skin slicing all the way down the whole papaya half.
Step 4: Now from here you can slice it into thin slices or clean cuts across the whole papaya half, or you can slice it into long strips, or chop into chunks. However you’d like is fine.
Step 5: Serve! Now you can serve any way you’d like. See serving ideas below.
Are Papaya Seeds Edible?
Yes, papaya seeds are edible!
Once removed form fresh papaya you can save and use them several different ways.
Papaya seeds have a little gelatinous covering around them. You can easily squeeze between your fingers and reveal the seeds.
Papaya seeds don’t smell like much but they do have a rough texture, and their taste is a peppery one something similar to horseradish.
You can eat papaya seeds right out of the fruit, that’s if you can handle their strong flavor.
Many people blend them with other ingredients to make salad dressings. Other people dry the seeds then grind them into a powder to use like you would black pepper.
How to Eat Papaya
In Mexico, papaya is often served for breakfast as part of a fruit salad or just papaya pieces or slices.
It’s also a popular fruit to include when making Mexican fruit salad or bionicos which are both popular snacks.
As you can see in the video, I love a squeezing a little lime juice over my papaya. The citrus and fruitiness of limes help to bring out some amazing flavors in the sweet flesh of the papaya. They compliment each other perfectly.
If you don’t have lime you can try lemon juice instead.
Additionally something I like to occasionally do when I eat papaya is add a sprinkling of sea salt over it. The combination of the sweet papaya flavors with the tart lime and saltiness is out of this world delicious — you must try it sometime! This is the one of the most delicious ways to eat papaya.
Some people like to sprinkle Tajin seasoning over their papaya snacks. It does actually taste quite good.
Other ways to enjoy papaya are in agua frescas, like my papaya and orange agua fresca recipe. I occasionally also make licuado or papaya shake that I make with soy milk, banana and papaya.
It also makes a delicious addition for making fresh, chunky papaya salsa.
Unripe papaya salad is a popular Thai dish and both green and ripe, it’s also used in Indian cuisines.
How to Store Papaya
Before you cut the papaya you can store it are room temperature, but after cutting into it, it’s best if you store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
My mom is a huge papaya fan, so she buys large papayas to last her all week long. What she likes to do instead of cutting the whole thing at once, is she slices off smaller pieces or enough for that particular meal.
Once cut and peeled papaya will last 3 or 4 days before the tastes starts going off. You can also freeze papaya for up to 3 months.
How to Clean Papaya
Well, amigos now that you know how to clean papaya, you can enjoy this delicious fruit that’s also one of the most nutritious fruit to add to your diet.
So, the next time you spot a fresh papaya at your local grocery store or farmer’s market, don’t hesitate to pick it up and try out one of the most delicious ways to indulge in nature’s gift from tropical climates. Happy papaya cleaning!
How to Clean Papaya (With Pictures and Video Guide)
- 1 cutting board
- 1 knife chef's knife or santoku knife
- 1 spoon
- 1 whole papaya
- Begin slicing the moving lengthwise the entire length down the papaya and slice all the way through.
- Scrape out the papaya seeds using a spoon. You can save or discard them.
- Place the flat side of the papaya on your work surface and using the knife, working form one end to another, run it just underneath the papaya skin slicing all the way down the whole papaya half.
- Slice the papaya into thin slices, or clean cuts across the whole papaya half, or you can slice it into long strips, or chop into chunks. However you’d like is fine.
- Now you're ready to eat your papaya!
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…