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Papaya (Carica papaya)also known as pawpaw, the fruits are much the size and shape of an elongated cantaloupe.  Some varieties remain green when ripe while most turn yellow or orange with flesh ranging from pink to orange and filled with brown-black caviar-like seeds. Fully ripe papaya is one of the delights among tropical fruits. 

Buying and Storing
Papaya is normally available all year round.  When fully ripe, papaya should be sweet smelling, soft to touch and at least partly yellow; too green and the fruit will lack flavor. 

Ripe papaya is very delicate and easily bruise.  Until cut, papaya should be stored outside a refrigerator.  As chilling injury can produce a bitter flavor within a few hours.  Once cut, papaya should be eaten as soon as possible.

Green papayas are used as vegetables, vinaigrette, or use in chutneys, unripe papayas may be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Prepare, Use and Serve
Papaya is prepared simply by slicing and removing its tiny black seeds.  Delicious for breakfast, it is often halved and eaten with a spoon to start the day but can be used in complicated desserts and drinks.  

Orange juice, lemon juice and ginger are all useful in enhancing its flavor, if it seems rather bland.  Papaya flesh will freeze well if pureed, so any excess is best stored in this form and used latter for drinks or sorbets.

Papaya contains an enzyme, papain which breaks down protein, including gelatine. The proportion of the enzyme present declines as ripeness increases.  The enzyme makes papaya a useful meat tenderizer. 

Different parts of the papaya plant can be used to tenderize meat by: 
  • Rubbing the surface of meat with flesh and seeds, remove before cooking; marinate meat with papaya juice. 
  • Papaya leaves are  used as a tenderizing wrapping for tough meat that is to be barbecued. 
  • Wrap meat with in papaya leaves (slightly bruising them) before roasting. 
If used in dishes with milk and gelatine, papaya should be cooked lightly first to destroy the enzyme or the whole concoction eaten very quickly before it self-destructs.  



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