Papayas are a delicious tropical fruit packed full of vitamin C and fiber. They are an important part of Thai and Indian cuisine and can be cooked in a variety of ways or eaten raw in a delicious and nutritious salad.
There are two kinds of Papaya. The one you will most commonly come across is the smaller variant, the Hawaiian Papaya. Papaya is ripe when the bright orange flesh is still firm and has a hint of citrus. The black seeds are edible, and the skins are not.
Whether you’re enjoying Papaya as nature delivered it or preparing it for use in a dish, you need to know the most straightforward way to peel, cut Papaya, and slice it. Read on to learn how to cut and prepare Papaya.
How To Cut Up A Papaya
Determining how to cut a Papaya really depends on how you’re serving it. If you prefer to eat the fruit plain, you can simply slice it in half horizontally, scoop out the seeds and use a spoon to eat it straight out of the skin. Or you can process it further by removing the skin and cutting it into cubes.
Here is the simplest way to cut up a Papaya to enjoy it either way.
Time To Complete: 20 minutes
1. Choose A Ripe Papaya That Is Ready To Eat
Hawaiian Papaya ripens to a golden yellow and is more pear-shaped than other varieties. If your Papaya is around 80% yellow, it should be ripe.
The flesh should be nice and tender but not overly squishy. Gently push on the skin with your thumb, and it should give in with gentle pressure.
If your fresh Papaya is overripe, you may see black spots or large brown bruises on the fruit. You may also notice a fermented smell emanating from it. This indicates the Papaya should be discarded.
Un-ripened green Papaya should not be eaten raw as it can make you sick. However, un-ripened Papaya and the leaves of the plant can be eaten once cooked. The flesh will be similar to squash, and the leaves similar to spinach.
2. Rinse Your Papaya Before Preparing
Although I don’t recommend eating the skin of Papaya, I do recommend cleaning the skin to avoid contaminants on the outside from entering the flesh as you slice and prepare it. Things like dust, dirt, and dirty hands carry unwanted germs that can travel from the grocery store to your kitchen.
Rinse the entire Papaya under clean, running water. Pat dry with a clean tea towel, or paper towel, to avoid slipperiness when peeling and cutting.
3. Peeling Your Papaya
Peeled Papaya can be extremely slippery. So, I prefer to peel a Papaya after it has been processed into smaller pieces so that it is easier to handle. Go to the next step if you don’t want to start peeling now.
Can You Eat Papaya Skin?
Although the skin of Papaya isn’t toxic, I don’t recommend you consume it. The papaya plant can produce latex, which may be absorbed into the skin of the fruit. Eating this can give you an upset stomach. On top of that, it is not pleasant tasting. Better to stick to the delicious flesh!
Related | Are Papaya Seeds Edible?
Use A Vegetable Peeler
If you choose to peel at this step, a vegetable peeler works well. Simply peel the whole thing like a giant potato. You may find it easiest to place the Papaya on a cutting board while you work. If it starts to get too slippery and out of control, use a fork to hold it in place with one hand while you peel with the other.
A blunt kitchen knife could damage and squash the tender flesh, so use a paring knife for more control.
Remove the top tapered end of the Papaya, just enough so that the seeds are showing, and a tiny slice off the bottom to create a stable, flat surface when stood up vertically on your cutting board.
Use your sharp knife to slice between the flesh and skin in long strips from top to bottom. It’s handy to leave a strip of skin at the top for you to grip and turn the fruit with or stab a fork in the top and hold it in place.
When peeling with a knife, you don’t need to press hard because the flesh should be ripe and tender. Otherwise, you may end up cutting away too much of the edible portion. Light strokes are all you need.
4. Slice Your Papaya In Half
Slice and cut Papaya in half lengthwise to expose the seeds.
5. Remove Papaya Seeds With A Spoon
Turn each half so that the seed cavity is facing up. You can now use a spoon to scoop out any black seeds and scrape away excess pulpy bits.
6. Cut The Papaya Into Cubes Or Slices
At this point, if you haven’t peeled your Papaya, Turn your papaya halves cavity down and skin with a vegetable peeler. Again, use a fork to hold it with one hand while you peel with the other.
You can also slice width-wise into crescent shapes and peel carefully with a knife or by hand, depending on the ripeness.
Once peeled, cut for bite-sized cubes or into chunks. Dispose of the peel – it’s great for a compost bin if you have one!
How To Eat Papaya
Ripe Papaya is delicious and should be eaten with gusto!
It’s fine to eat Papaya at room temperature, but you may find you prefer it when served cold, particularly on a hot summer’s day.
Try squeezing some lime or lemon juice over your Papaya before eating it – this creates a delicious tang that enhances the Papaya flavor.
Excess papaya intake can cause your skin to develop an orange tone. If your diet is low in fiber, Papaya can be a jolt to your gut. Un-ripened Papaya should not be eaten raw but can be cooked and served as a savory dish.
Simple Ways To Serve Raw Papayas At Home
- Papaya Sorbet – Blend with water, sugar, and lemon juice before freezing for a few hours for a healthy, sweet treat on a hot day.
- Papaya Salsa – Fruit salsa is a refreshing and simple snack for a summer’s day. It’s mixed with red onion, peppers, and a splash of lime and can be enjoyed with some tasty corn chips.
- Papaya Salad – Papaya goes surprisingly well with cheese. Dream up a delicious salad with greens, tomatoes, almonds, feta cheese, and a chili-lime dressing. Throw a few papaya seeds on top for a great, crunchy texture.
- Papaya Boat – Save on washing up and use your Papaya as a bowl for fruit salad. You can leave the flesh in place and use the empty seed cavity to throw in chunks of banana, pineapple, and berries with a drizzle of yogurt – or if you’re after a decadent treat, add vanilla ice-cream, sprinkles, and other goodies!
- Papaya Smoothie – You may be surprised to learn that, unlike some fruits, Papaya is delicious when blended with milk. Chop one ripe Papaya into chunks, add ½ cup of milk (whatever variety you prefer), squeeze in some lime juice, and add a few drops of vanilla extract. Adding crushed ice or half a banana adds texture.
Ways To Use Papaya In Cooking
While ripe Papaya is best enjoyed raw, green Papaya can be cooked for a uniquely delicious dish. The fruit pairs well with potatoes, eggplant, and cheeses, and meat.
- Marinade – the natural compounds in papaya help to tenderize meat, so it makes a fantastic marinade with a citrusy tang.
- Roast/Baked Papaya – Roasting Papaya increases the flavor, and simple baked Papaya can make for a delectable dessert.
- Papaya Chicken – Have a go at creating some flavorsome Indian cuisine.
- Salads and Stews – You can think of green Papaya as more of a vegetable – add chunks of it to stews or stir-fries, or experiment by using it to replace squash in your favorite recipes.
When deciding how to prepare Papaya, keep things simple. The fresh, sweet flavor of Papaya is delicious alone.