I hadn’t really given much thought to papayas until I tried one fresh from the tree when visiting Hawaii last year. I didn’t need much convincing after that! Versatile, flavorful, and bursting with vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamin C – the papaya is truly a superfood.

Papayabaum1 Papayabaum2

Papaya originally comes from Central America, but is now cultivated in all tropical countries. A distinction is made between the small papayas weighing up to 500 g, which grow in Hawaii and Brazil, among other countries, and those that can weigh up to 5 kg, which can be found in Mexico and Belize. Because they’re sensitive to pressure, small papayas are individually cocooned in white Styrofoam nets before shipping. Since papayas are tropical fruits, they don’t tolerate cold so well – so keep them out of the fridge!


Papayas don’t ripen much after harvesting, so when choosing a papaya, make sure the skin has developed yellow spots or stripes and that the fruit yields under slight pressure. Green papayas (such as those pictured above) are not yet ripe, but can also be enjoyed in savory dishes like Thai green papaya salad.

Papayas contain an enzyme known as “papain” that is said to help burn fat, and papain is sold as a supplement for this purpose – but why suck down pills when you can eat the actual papaya?! The seeds of the papaya, which are dark brown or black and resemble peppercorns, are also edible and contain lots of papain – more on that in a coming post! :-)

Papayas are anti-inflammatory and aid digestion, and are also said to strengthen the immune system; the antioxidants neutralize free radicals. 

Ripe (sweet) papaya works well in both sweet and savory dishes: it can be eaten plain (just like melon!), blended up into smoothies, and used in salads, curries, and chutneys. Be sure to eat papaya raw to get the most benefits from the fruit, since the nutrients are destroyed when heated.

Check out my post on what to do with papaya seeds!

(While writing this post, I couldn’t help listening to this song by Alexander Marcus! ;-))

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