The papaya is a sweet fruit that tastes like a combination of melon, mango, and banana, with a slightly funky flavor and aroma. There are many varieties of papaya around the world, but the ones most often found in grocery stores in the US have an oblong shape that ranges in size from a little larger than a softball to nearly as long as your forearm!
What Does a Papaya Taste Like?
The inside of a ripe papaya ranges from deep peach to bright orange and contains a crevice with round, black seeds which need to be scooped out and discarded before eating.
The flesh is tender with a smooth, almost creamy texture, similar to an ataulfo or Champagne mango, but firm enough to be cut into bite-size cubes.
How to Tell When a Papaya Is Ripe
On the outside, the papaya isn’t a very attractive fruit. As it ripens, the skin turns from green to yellow, often with splotches of both colors working their way around its surface. There will be dimples and rough spots – this is all a good thing! When the skin becomes more yellow than green and it is slightly soft to the touch, the papaya is ripe and ready to cut.
Ripe papayas bruise easily so expect some marks and indentations on the surface. You don’t want there to be deep cuts in the skin, but since the ends of the papaya will be cut off you don’t need to be too concerned about each end of the fruit.
Be aware of the signs of over-ripeness and rotting. If skin begins to turn from dark brown to black in spots and there are deep, wide pockets where the skin sinks in, this could be an indication that the fruit is beginning to go bad.
Once you find a ripe, ready-to-eat papaya, rinse it under cool water and pat it dry with a clean dish towel or paper towels before cutting it.
How to Eat Papaya
Swap papaya cubes for mango in this Sauteed Shrimp with Tropical Fruit Salsa, or use papaya instead of berries in this Berry Banana Smoothie.
Papaya is also wonderful served straight up with some salty prosciutto, like in this recipe for Papaya with Prosciutto and Lime.
How to Cut a Papaya
- 1 papaya, rinsed and dried
Trim the ends:
Cut off the top and bottom ends of the fruit.
Cut the papaya in half:
Cut the papaya in half lengthwise.
Remove the seeds:
Use a spoon to remove and discard the black seeds.
Remove the skin:
Place the papaya cut side down and use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Repeat this process with the second half.
Slice the papaya:
Decide how big you’d like your cubes to be (I usually make them about a 1/2 to 1 inch), then cut the papaya into long slices that match your preferred width of cube.
Hold the slices together with one hand and cut across those slices to create cubes of papaya.
Trim up the pieces.
If your papaya is large, you may need to trim up the pieces to make them cubes. Stack similar sized pieces and cut as needed.