Papayas are a delicious tropical fruit packed full of vitamin C and fiber. They are an important part of Thai and Indian cuisine. They can be cooked in various ways or eaten raw in a delicious and nutritious salad.
How to cut a papaya fruit depends on how you plan to serve it. If you prefer to eat it 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 pieces.
Whether you’re enjoying papaya as nature delivered it or preparing it for use in a recipe, you need to know the most straightforward way to peel, cut, and slice it. Read on to learn how to cut and prepare papaya for serving.
How To Cut Up A Papaya
Step 1 – Choose A Ripe Papaya
There are two kinds of papaya. You will most commonly come across the smaller variant, the Hawaiian papaya.
Hawaiian papaya ripens to a golden yellow and is more pear-shaped than other orange-fleshed varieties. If your papaya is around 80% yellow, the flesh is still firm, and has a hint of citrus to it, it should be ripe.
Make sure that your papaya is fresh and showing no signs of spoilage.
Unripened green papaya can be cut the same as fresh, but it should not be eaten raw as it can make you sick. Once cooked, the flesh will be similar to squash, and the leaves similar to spinach.
Step 2 – Clean Your Papaya
Although I don’t recommend eating papaya skin, I 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 kitchen towel or paper towel. This will help avoid slipperiness when peeling and cutting.
Step 3 – Peel 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.
I’ve included two ways to peel papaya below. But go to the next step if you don’t want to start peeling now.
Using A Vegetable Peeler
A vegetable peeler works well if you choose to peel at this step. Simply peel the whole thing like a giant potato. You may find it easiest to place the papaya on a cutting board lined with a kitchen towel while you work.
If it gets too slippery and out of control, use a fork to hold it in place with one hand while you peel it with the other.
Once peeled, you can move on to cutting bite-sized cubes or chunks. Throw the peels in the garbage or compost bin if you have one!
Using A Paring Knife
You will need to use a sharp paring knife to avoid damaging the tender flesh. It also allows you to have more control over where you’re cutting compared to a full-sized kitchen knife.
Start by cutting off the top tapered end of your papaya, just enough so the seeds are showing. And slice off a tiny slice from the bottom to create a stable, flat surface when standing 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 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.
Step 4 – Slice Your Papaya In Half
Lay your papaya down on its side and cut it in half lengthwise to expose the seeds. This time, a chef’s knife is best. And again, using a fork to manage the slippery fruit can help reduce accidents.
Step 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 the black seeds and scrape away excess pulpy bits.
While the seeds may be edible, you can send the pulp and seeds to the garbage or compost bin.
Step 6 – Cut Your Papaya Into Cubes, Slices, Or Wedges
If you haven’t peeled your papaya by this point, turn your papaya halves cavity side down and skin with a vegetable peeler. Again, use a fork to hold it with one hand while you peel it with the other.
You can also slice width-wise into crescent shapes or wedges and then peel carefully with a knife.
Peeling smaller pieces can be dangerous, depending on the ripeness of your papaya. The riper it is, the more squishy and juicy it will be, making it slippery to work with.
How To Eat Papaya
The best way to eat papaya is to be served cold chunks on a hot summer’s day. However, it’s just as delicious at room temperature. A squeeze of lime or lemon juice over your papaya creates a tang that will enhance your papaya’s flavor.
Again, unripened papaya should not be eaten raw but can be cooked and served as a tasty savory dish.
Can You Eat Papaya Skin?
Although the skin of papaya isn’t toxic, I don’t recommend that it be eaten. The papaya plant produces latex, which is absorbed into the skin of the fruit. Eating the skin can give you an upset stomach and should be tossed out or composted.
On top of that, the skin is not pleasant tasting, no matter what you do with it. The black papaya seeds are edible, and the skins are not, so it’s better to stick with the delicious flesh!
Simple Ways To Serve Papaya 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 carefully slice the flesh in a diced pattern and use the empty seed cavity to throw in chunks of banana, pineapple, and berries with a drizzle of yogurt.
- Papaya Smoothie – You may be surprised to learn that, unlike some fruits, papaya is delicious when blended with milk. Use 3 cups of ripe Papaya chunks, 1 cup of milk, and a few drops of vanilla extract. Adding crushed ice or half a banana will help add texture and thickness.
- Papaya Marinade – The natural compounds in papaya can help tenderize meat, making it a fantastic marinade when used with lime for a citrusy tang.
- In Stews And Stir fry – You can think of green papaya as more of a vegetable. Add chunks of it to stews or stir-fries. Experiment by using it to replace squash in your favorite recipes.
How To Cut A Papaya
- 1 Pairing Knife
- 1 Chef's Knife
- 1 Medium Papaya
- Choose a ripe papaya that is ready to eat.
- Rinse and clean your papaya before preparing.
- Peel your papaya.
- Slice your papaya in half length-wise.
- Remove papaya seeds with a spoon.
- Cut your papaya into slices, wedges, or cubes.