So here you are with a bumper crop of papaya fruit. Now what to do with it all? The good news is that there is a plethora of papaya fruit uses. Don’t know what to use papaya for except to eat fresh out of hand? Don’t worry — we’ve compiled a list of what to use papaya for.
What to do with Papaya
The obvious thing to do with papaya is to eat it fresh, but that isn’t all you can do. Papaya fruit is so versatile it can be grilled, frozen, pickled, and more. It’s no wonder that papaya can be found among a slew of cuisines, from savory to sweet.
A Versatile Plant
Papaya is a tree that bears pear-shaped fruit that turns from green to yellow as it ripens. When ripe, the interior of the fruit yields soft, juicy flesh surrounding small black seeds. These seeds are edible and are usually ground to resemble black pepper.
When unripe, papaya contains the enzyme papain, often used as a meat tenderizer. Papain is also used to treat fabrics and to clarify beer.
Other parts of the plant can also be eaten. The leaves are sautéed like spinach in Indian cuisine, and are used to wrap foods. They are also used as a tobacco substitute and as a form of soap.
Papaya is used primarily as a food source, but in some regions papaya fruit uses are medicinal. The unripe fruit is used to treat ringworm and skin conditions, while the ripe fruit is eaten to ease constipation.
The bloom of the papaya plant is used in Brazil to treat digestive ailments and low blood pressure. In the Amazon the roots are eaten for indigestion and the fruit is used as an antiseptic.
The latex contained in the plant is used in Mexico to treat constipation and skin rashes. In Paraguay, the seeds are dried to expel intestinal worms. In Hawaii, an infusion of the fruit is said to encourage breast milk production.
Caution when Using Papaya Fruit
When using papaya fruit, be aware that unripe fruit contains latex, which is inedible. In South Asian cuisine unripe papaya is used, but must go through a labor-intensive process prior to consumption.
What to do with Papaya in the Kitchen
There are so many ways of using papaya in the kitchen. A simple and delicious method for preparing papaya is to grill it. Just cut in half, scoop out the seeds and grill. Here are some more options:
- Add diced papaya to your favorite Pico de gallo or salsa recipe and serve with chips. Serve over chicken or other meats, or add to black beans as a side dish.
- Sweeten up ho-hum chicken or shrimp salad with the addition of papaya.
- Add fresh or frozen papaya to your next smoothie. Also, freeze papaya slices for a cool summer treat. Make papaya ice cream.
- Switch out the traditional melon and prosciutto appetizer with papaya.
- Make a basic fruit salad exotic by adding papaya, and add papaya to Greek yogurt.
- Shred papaya and add to spring rolls.
- Use those seeds! They have a sharp peppery flavor that is fabulous sprinkled on a variety of dishes.