Papaya is a delicious and nutritious tropical fruit that can be eaten ripe or unripe, making it a versatile option for any meal. But what does a ripe papaya look like, and how can you tell?
The best way to tell that a papaya is ripe is by its color. A ripe papaya should be mostly yellow with a few patches of green and orange. The fruit’s skin should also give in slightly when you press on it, indicating that it’s ready to eat.
A less-than-perfect papaya can be a little tricky to know when it’s ripe, so read on to learn more about what to look for and how to ripen a papaya that isn’t quite ready to eat.
What Does Papaya Look Like?
A papaya is a large, pear-shaped fruit that typically weighs between 1 and 5 pounds.
The skin of the fruit is thin and smooth, ranging in color from green to yellow to orange.
The flesh of the papaya is also yellow or orange and is filled with small black seeds.
How To Tell If Papaya Is Ripe
When it comes to taste, a ripe papaya is sweet and slightly musky. On the other hand, an unripe papaya is much less sweet and can taste a bit like green bell pepper.
Before you dive into taste testing your fruit, look at and feel your papaya.
If your papaya is still mostly green, it is not yet ripe and will not taste as sweet.
As it ripens, the color will change to yellow and orange and may have patches of red, similar to a ripe mango.
The best time to eat papaya is before it overripens because the flavors will diminish and become less sweet and eventually bitter. The papaya seeds will remain unchanged and have a pepper taste to them.
An overripe papaya will change color, usually brown, and be very soft to the touch.
As it spoils, the skin will split and eventually turn black. If it’s made it this far on your kitchen counter, be prepared to clean up a soupy mess.
How To Pick A Good Papaya
The best time to pick a papaya from the grocery store is when it has just started to change color but still has a fair amount of green on it.
Of course, if you want to use it the day you bought it, you should look for all the signs mentioned above.
When you’re trying to select a papaya, try to pick the best of the best.
Here are a few tips to pick a good papaya:
- Make sure it has a good shape, indicating that it was able to grow and develop properly.
- The color needs to be mostly yellow but can be 50% green if you don’t plan to use it immediately.
- It needs to have blemish-free skin with no bruising or damage. Bruising will cause it to spoil quickly.
- Make sure there are no sticky liquids on the papaya. This could indicate splitting skin from either your chosen fruit or another nearby. This liquid is most likely laden with spoilage bacteria.
- If you see a lot of fruit flies buzzing around, it might be best to pass on them. They love and thrive on papayas’ sweet juices and tender flesh and, unfortunately, aid in the spoilage process.
Ripening A Papaya At Home
Papayas are an ethylene-producing fruit which is a gas that they release to help them ripen faster. Typically, a papaya will have a lot of airflow around them as they grow on the tree.
So, by placing a papaya in a paper bag on the counter, the concentration of ethylene gas increases dramatically and thus ripens your papaya quickly.
Do not use a plastic bag because it will trap moisture as the papaya releases it. This excess moisture will accelerate the growth of bacteria and mold and make the papaya unsafe to eat.
Finally, do not store your papaya with ethylene-sensitive fruits and vegetables. It will cause them to ripen too fast and could spoil all of your produce before you get a chance to use them.
A few examples of vegetables to keep away from papaya are spinach, broccoli, carrots, bell peppers, and fruits like unripe bananas, mangoes, and berries.
How To Ripen A Papaya
- 1 Large Paper Bag
- 1 Whole Papaya
- Clean the outside of your papaya under cold water to remove any sticky substances, dirt, or debris. You don’t need to scrub or use any tools. Simply use your hand.
- Use paper towels to completely dry your papaya. It’s important that it is completely dry to help avoid the growth of unwanted spoilage bacteria and mold.
- Place your papaya in a paper bag and set it on the counter away from other food. You don’t need to seal the bag completely, but it is best to have the open end facing up.
- Check on your papaya every day until it is ripened and ready to cut and serve.