Name Variations Edit
- fruta bomba
- tree melon
About Papaya Edit
Wikipedia Article About Papaya on Wikipedia
The papaya, also known as mamao, tree melon, lechoza (Venezuela and Puerto Rico), or pawpaw is the fruit of the tree Carica papaya, in the genus Carica.
It is a small unbranched tree, the single stem growing to 5-10 m tall, with the spirally arranged leaves confined to the top of the trunk; the lower trunk is conspicuously scarred with the leaf scars of where older leaves and fruit were borne. The leaves are large, 50-70 cm diameter, deeply palmately lobed with 7 lobes. The flowers are produced in the axils of the leaves, maturing into the large 15-45 cm long, 10-30 cm diameter fruit. The fruit is ripe when it feels soft (like a ripe avocado or a bit softer) and its skin has attained an amber to orange hue.
The exact origination of papaya is unknown but it is believed to be native to southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. The papaya is a melon like fruit with yellow-orange flesh enclosed in a thin skin that varies in color from green to orange to rose. Papayas are a good source of vitamin A and C.
Today papaya can be found all year long with the peak season being early summer and fall. Most of the papayas imported come from Hawaii, but smaller quantities from Florida, California, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Central and South American countries are becoming more available.
The papaya enzyme called papain, is used as a meat tenderizer. It breaks down tough meat fibers. Its use is nothing new. South American cooks have been using papaya to tenderize meat for ages. It is sold as a component in powdered meat tenderizer available in most supermarkets. Selection
Look for papayas that are partly or completely yellow in color, depending on variety, that give slightly to pressure, but are not soft at the stem-end. Avoid papayas that are bruised, shriveled, or have soft areas. Papayas that are hard and green are immature and will not ripen properly. Uncut papayas have no smell. Papayas that are cut should smell sweet, not bad or fermented.
Slightly green papayas will ripen quickly at room temperature, especially if placed in a paper bag. As the papaya ripens, it will turn from green to yellow. Place ripe papayas in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator. Papayas will keep for up to a week, but it's best to use them within a day or two.
There are two types of papayas, the Hawaiian and Mexican. The Hawaiian varieties also known as Solo papayas, are found most often in supermarkets. These fruits are pear shaped, weigh about a pound each, and have yellow skin when ripe. The flesh is bright orange or pinkish, depending on the variety. The Mexican varieties are not as common but can be found in Latino supermarkets. Mexican papayas are much larger then the Hawaiian types and can weigh up to 20 pounds and be more than 15 inches long. Although the flavor is less intense than the Hawaiian varieties, they are still delicious and enjoyable.
- Fruit & Vegetable of the Month: Papaya by the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, public domain government resource—original source of aricle