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All About Papaya

This most tropical of fruits was once considered exotic — yet now it has become as common to the produce section of large supermarkets nationwide as are cantaloupe and bananas.

The papayas found in U.S. supermarkets produce sections are mostly from Mexico, which are still green looking but beautifully ripe on the inside.  Since they are so large, you will find them cut in half lengthwise and sold wrapped in plastic wrap.  If the pinkish  flesh looks soft or mushy reject those for halves of Mexican papaya that look more firm in texture. In New York's Chinatown you can find Jamaican papaya as well as papaya from Mexico. 


A few days ago (late April)  I bought a Hawaiian papaya  in a fancy food store in NYC - memories of our recent return to Honolulu came flooding into my mind but my  tastebuds had different thoughts....we ate[Papayas] half a papaya every morning for two weeks - just as we did when we lived in Honolulu for many years.   There is no comparison to the taste of papaya grown and eaten in Hawai'i to one that has traveled almost 6,000 miles to a New York City supermarket produce shelf! 

I was  surprised to learn that Brazil is the largest producer of papayas in the world and is the major supplier to European countries.  The next largest producers in South America are Peru, Columbia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Chile and Argentina. Other countries producing papaya include Latin America and the Caribbean, Africa, India (second largest producer), Indonesia, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand.

Papaya Salad

1 small sweet onion,  thinly sliced
1 semi-ripe papaya, peeled, seeded and cubed
1 bunch watercress, trimmed and cut in 1-inch pieces
1 head lettuce leaves


1/3 cup tarragon vinegar
1 Tbs. honey
1 Tbs. poppy seeds
1 Tbs. chopped fresh mint
½ tsp ground coriander
dash white pepper

Soak onion in a bowl of water for 10 minutes. Drain. Add papaya and refrigerate for 1 hour. Combine dressing ingredients. Toss papaya, onion and watercress with dressing. Serve on a bed of lettuce. Yield: 4 servings

Papaya Curry Marinade

1 ripe papaya, peeled and seeded
½ cup orange juice
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice
1 ½ tsp curry powder
2 tsp salt

Place ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend well. Use as a marinade for poultry or pork. Yield: 1 cup.

Papaya Salsa

3 cups diced ripe papaya
1 cup red bell pepper, finely diced
1 ½ cups red onion, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes
Salt & pepper to taste
dash of Tabasco or other chili sauce
1 handful Cilantro, coarsely chopped

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl. Toss thoroughly. Cover and let stand for 1 hours before serving.  Especially delicious served with grilled pork and fish. Yield: about 4 cups

Papaya Sherbet

3 large papayas, peeled, seeded and flesh pureed
¼ cup lemon juice
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
½ cup orange juice
¾ cup sugar
¼ cup honey
1 cup whipping cream

Combine papaya purée and lemon juice. Soften gelatin in orange juice, then dissolve over boiling water. Blend sugar and honey with whipping cream. Gradually stir in gelatin and papaya purée. Pour into a shallow container and freeze for 1 hour or until half frozen. Beat mixture; return to freezer and freeze completely. Yield: 8 servings.




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