Papaya is a pretty, tropical fruit, making it a popular addition to fruit salads in the summer. It’s often combined with mango, pineapple, and kiwi.
Papaya, if properly ripened, has a beautiful sweet taste with a creamy texture that melts in your mouth. The seeds of the papaya have a spicy flavor that can be eaten with the fruit or added to other dishes.
However, if you encounter unripened papaya, you’ll find a fruit that has very little flavor or perhaps even a bitter, musky flavor. In addition, over-ripened papayas have an unappealing aroma often likened to vomit. So it’s important to choose a ripe papaya.
When papaya hasn’t ripened yet, it’s hard and bitter. Even if you enjoy the flavor, it’s very tough and difficult to chew. However, if you cut it small enough you can take advantage of its crunchy texture.
Finding a ripe papaya can be a bit of a challenge. However, when you get one, you get to enjoy a beautifully sweet taste that melts in your mouth.
Sometimes the texture is described as being similar to a mango or an avocado.
Choosing a Ripe Papaya
In order to get a sweet, creamy, buttery fruit flavor from your papaya, you need to ensure you’ve chosen one that is perfectly ripe.
All papaya start out green. Most papayas, when ripe, will turn a golden yellow. That said, there are some papayas that are an orange color.
If your papaya is green, it’s not ripe yet. Although it can still be used in some dishes, it’s not ideal to eat as a sweet fruit.
The texture of a ripe papaya is similar to that of an avocado. You want it to be a little soft, but not overly so.
If it’s hard and you can’t squeeze it, or get very little give, it’s not ripe yet.
A ripe papaya will have a subtly sweet smell.
If there is no smell, it’s not ripe yet, if there is a strong smell, it’s overripe.
Overripe papaya is mushy in texture and has an overly sweet, somewhat musky flavor. While it might not be pleasant to eat it alone or in a fruit salad, overripe papaya can still be enjoyed.
You could use it for smoothies or juices if the overly sweet, musky flavor and smell are agreeable to you.
Although most people discard the seeds, they are completely edible.
They have a peppery flavor, sort of like horseradish, with a nice crunch. And, while you certainly could eat them with your papaya, they go well in soups and salads. In addition, they are often used as seasonings.
The most important thing about papaya is making sure it’s perfectly ripe. A perfectly ripe papaya means a beautiful sweet taste with a texture that melts in your mouth.
However, be wary of underripe or overripe papaya, both of which will change the flavor, texture, and smell of the fruit.