Cooking School — Papaya

By / Food / July 23rd, 2010 / 1

I admit that my first bite of papaya was not at all what I was expecting. Peach-coloured, juicy, I imagined the taste would be sweet and cantaloupe-like. Anything but, actually. Floral, musky, the flavour can take some getting used to. Some people take to it immediately, others … not so much. If you fall into the latter group, try squeezing a drop or two of fresh lime juice over the papaya to bring out a bit more of its natural, subtle sweetness.

Papayas come in a number of sizes – from small to large, but most grocery stores carry the larger varieties. If you’re not sure what a ripe papaya looks like, poke it. The flesh should give a little when it’s ready to eat. Having said that, there are a lot of people who like to use green, unripe papayas either cooked or eaten raw. Enjoyed the latter way, it tasted a lot like a cucumber, crispy and refreshing.

However, should you want a ripe one, then do this. Scan the grocery store displays for fruit that shows a little gold colour and smooth, unblemished skin. Like avocados and bananas, take it home and leave it at room temperature. In a few days, the skin will turn golden and the flesh should give a little when pressed. At that point, you’ll have to either eat it or refrigerate it.

Solo papayas come from Hawaii, California, Florida, Mexico and all over Central and South America. They’re small and pear-shaped, and are as popular as the Meridol which are considerably larger and shaped like a football. Imported from Costa Rica, Brazil and the Caribbean, you’ll find that one way or another papayas are available in Canada year-round.


Rosemary Mantini has always loved words. When she isn't working as the Associate Editor at Tidings Magazine, she's helping others achieve their writing dreams, and sometimes she even relaxes with a good book and a glass of wine.

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