Papayas are a delicious tropical fruit packed full of vitamin C and fiber. Delicious eaten raw, they are an important part of Thai and Indian cuisine and can be cooked in a variety of ways or eaten raw in a nutritious salad.
There are two kinds of Papaya – the one you will most commonly come across is the smaller variant, Hawaiian papaya. The ripe flesh is firm and orange, the seeds are edible and the skins are not. The bright orange flesh is sweet with a hint of citrus. Papaya seeds are also edible, with some great health benefits.
Whether you’re enjoying papaya as nature delivered it, or preparing it for use in a dish, you need to know the simplest, most effective way to peel, cut and slice it. Read on for our favorite methods.
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 vertically or horizontally, scoop out the seeds and use a spoon to eat it straight out of the skin.
Here’s our best, most simple way to cut up a papaya.
Step 1. How To Wash A Papaya
Although we don’t recommend eating the skin of a papaya, it’s still advisable to wash the skin to avoid contaminants on the outside from entering the flesh as you slice and prepare.
- 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.
Step 2: How To Peel A Papaya
- First, remove the top, tapered end of the papaya, just enough so that the seeds are showing and you create a stable, flat surface.
- Using a long handled, small spoon, scoop out the seeds.
- Place the papaya on a cutting board, flat surface down.
- Using a sharp paring knife – a blunt kitchen knife could damage and squash the tender flesh – 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.
- You won’t need to press too hard – the flesh is so soft you may end up cutting away too much of the edible portion, so light strokes are all you need.
- Lie the papaya on its side, then slice away the remaining peel.
Ripe papaya can be peeled with a vegetable peeler if you prefer.
Step 3. How To Cut A Papaya
- Slice your papaya in half lengthwise.
- Turn it over so that the seed cavity is on top. You can now use a spoon to scoop out any seeds that you missed and scrape away any excess pulpy bits.
- Turn it cavity down again, slice lengthwise and then across for bite-sized cubes or chunks.
- Dispose of the peel – it’s great for a compost bin if you have one!
Papaya seeds are edible – you can use them in cooking or as a garnish. In small amounts, they are very good for your health!
Can You Eat Papaya Skin?
Although the skin of a papaya isn’t toxic, we 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 this, it is not pleasant tasting. Better to stick to the delicious flesh!
Can You Eat The Seeds?
The flavor has a bite to it – akin to black peppercorns – it’s worth including them in your diet rather than throwing them onto the compost pile.
Papaya seeds have great anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties and can help protect the digestive system.
Store them in a sealed container in the fridge and munch a few every day. Too many and your digestive system may work a little too well!
How To Slice A Papaya
When slicing a papaya, you are only limited by your creativity! You can use our preferred method above to prepare and slice, or simply cut thick slices right through the center to create round chunks with an attractive seed cavity in the center.
If you fancy tucking into a piece of papaya like you would a slice of watermelon, simply cut the fruit into quarters or eighths lengthwise, scrape out the seeds and enjoy.
How To Tell If Papaya Is Ripe
Hawaiian papaya ripens to a golden yellow. 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, it should give with gentle pressure.
If your 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 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.
How To Ripen Papaya
The best way to ripen a papaya is to store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to one week.
If you’re impatient to get stuck in and don’t want to wait that long, you can speed up the ripening process by placing papaya in a paper bag and ripening it at room temperature. Putting a banana or an apple in the bag with papaya will accelerate the process even further.
Once they start to soften, refrigerate immediately to keep papaya good for up to three days.
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 which enhances the flavor of the papaya.
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.
Top Five 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. Mixed with red onion, peppers and a splash of lime, it can be enjoyed with some tasty corn chips. We love the recipe over at Tastes Lovely.
- 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. Learn how to easily make a papaya paste for tenderizing your red meat over at Great Curry Recipes.
- Roast/Baked Papaya – Roasting papaya increases the flavor, and a simple baked papaya can make for a delectable dessert. For a simple recipe that will impress even the fussiest eater, check out this version at Genius Kitchen.
- Papaya Chicken – Have a go at creating some flavorsome Indian cuisine with this spectacular but simple dish.
- 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.
Final Thoughts – How Do You Eat A Papaya?
Papaya is a fantastic addition to your diet and a delicious way to add extra nutrients into your diet. Eating papaya regularly can contribute greatly to digestive health.
When deciding how to prepare papaya, keep things simple. The fresh, sweet flavor of papaya is delicious alone. If you want to add papaya to a salad or juice, cut the fruit and remove the seeds. In summer, we love eating it for breakfast with a drizzle of yoghurt, a squirt of lime juice and some granola.
Because papayas are grown in so many places, each region will have its own preferred methods of serving this delicious fruit. Adventurous cooks will enjoy the chance to try out new recipes specific to Mexico, South and Central America, and India.