Also known as Pawpaw, papaya has been around for centuries. The yellow fruit originates from Mexico and Central America. However, it is cultivated in tropical regions all around the world. The papaya trees love direct sunlight and moisture and require well-drained soil to produce the sun-kissed fruits.
Did you know that Christopher Columbus called papaya the “fruit of the angels”? It is not hard to see why! The fruit is not only delicious but also highly nutritious. It is rich in vitamins including Vitamin C, B, and A. It also has traces of potassium as well as calcium and acts as a rich source of flavonoids, folate, copper, magnesium, fiber, and pantothenic acids.
It does not come as a surprise that together, these nutrients can do wonders for your body. No doubt, it is a healthy treat! Before we dive into how to store papaya, let’s take a quick look at the health benefits of including this healthy fruit in your daily diet.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of Papaya
- Papaya Selection
- Storing Unripe Papaya
- Storing Ripe Papaya
Health Benefits of Papaya
If you think papaya is all about taste, you are in for a surprise. Papaya can play a major role in keeping your body fit and healthy. From the heart to the digestive tract, papaya takes care of it all. Scroll down to read about some of the top health benefits of munching on this divine fruit.
Protection against Heart Diseases
Being a powerful source of antioxidants like Vitamin A and C, papaya can help prevent atherosclerosis and diabetic heart diseases. So, how does it work? Well, the nutrients present in papaya prevent the oxidation of cholesterol. It is important to note that cholesterol causes plaque, which can lead to heart attacks and blocked arteries, only when it’s oxidized. Moreover, papaya is rich in fibers which help lower cholesterol! This makes papaya the perfect fruit for your heart since it not only promotes cardiovascular health but also satisfies your cravings for sweet!
Papayas can help promote digestive health. In fact, it has been used for centuries in ancient medicinal practices as a remedy for constipation, bloating, and the treatment of symptoms of IBS.
Inflammation can present a number of problems, especially for people suffering from diseases like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. Luckily, it is possible to keep inflammation in control simply by enjoying a delicious treat – papayas! The fruit possesses anti-inflammatory properties because it contains multiple protein-digesting enzymes. Furthermore, Vitamin C and beta-carotene, both of which are found in papaya, are excellent anti-inflammatory agents.
Enhanced Immune System
Do you often suffer from flu, colds, or infections? Papaya may be able to help you out! Adding papaya to your diet is a great way to boost your immune system in order to make your body strong and healthy.
After having a look at these unique benefits, no one can deny that papaya makes an excellent addition to your daily diet. However, like most other fruits, papaya is quite delicate. Once it is ripe, it rots pretty quickly. This makes it important to know all about how long papayas can last, how to buy the best of them, and how to store them properly. Scroll down to read just that!
In order to pick the best fruit, it is important to know what it looks like. Keep in mind that while papaya can weigh up to 20 pounds, the variety of an average papaya available in the market is about 6 – 10 inches long weighs nothing more than 1 to 2 pounds.
Almost Ripe Papaya
When you are out to shop for your favorite fruits, look for papayas that are mostly yellow with only a hint of green in it. At this point, the papaya is almost ripe. This makes it the perfect time to buy it as it allows you to let it sit on your counter overnight or for a day.
If you want to purchase completely ripe fruit, you are looking for papayas that have a bright yellow skin. They are smooth and firm, and usually heavy for their size. However, completely ripe papayas yield to gentle pressure. If the fruit is hard, it is probably not ripe yet. As long as there are no bruises or cuts, and the fruit is firm, it is good to buy! Also, don’t forget to take a sniff before you purchase papaya. A sweet aroma means that your papaya is ripe and fresh.
Overly Ripe Papayas
It is wise to avoid overly ripe papayas unless you are planning to puree them or use them immediately. These fruits usually have marks and blemishes on the skin. They may even have cuts at places. Unlike ripe papayas, they are generally soft and mushy.
So, the best-looking papayas you just brought home are sitting on your counter. Now, it’s time to store them. As stated earlier, papayas are delicate fruits. The only way to make them last for a long time is to store them properly. It is important to understand that the best-storing method depends not only on the condition of your fruits but also on why and for how long you wish to store them.
Here’s all you need to know about storing papayas!
Storing Unripe Papaya
Depending on when you plan to use your unripe papaya, you can store them in a number of ways. Do you wish to devour your papayas as soon as possible? Or maybe you are not in a rush at all! Scroll down to read about a few ways to store unripe papayas.
Leave them on the Counter
If you are in no hurry to eat it, let your unripe papaya sit on the counter. For ideal conditions to promote ripening, set the room temperature to around 20 – 25 degrees. Keep in mind that this method works best for fruits that are partially yellow. Just leave them at room temperature and in a few days, you will have bright yellow, fully ripe papayas on your hands!
Bring in the Paper Bag
If you can’t wait to use the papayas, store them in a paper bag to speed up the ripening process. All you need to do is wrap up the fruit in a paper bag and leave it in a dry place. Don’t forget to keep an eye on your papaya to make sure it does not get overripe.
Banana Does the Trick
The fastest way to ripening papaya is to take a little help from bananas! The trick is the same as storing the papaya in a paper bag except, this time; you keep a banana in the bag alongside it. Bananas produce an enzyme that can help any other fruit, including papaya, ripe quickly! To make sure your papaya does not overripe, check the bag at least 2 – 3 times a day.
Storing Ripe Papaya
Once the papaya is completely ripe, it is important to store it properly. Otherwise, you may end up making a puree out of it only to avoid throwing your papaya in the trash! To make sure this does not happen and you enjoy the papaya when it is full of flavor, employ any of the following methods to store it.
Storing ripe papaya in the refrigerator allows you to increase the consumption time by up to two to three days. This is perhaps the simplest method of keeping your ripe fruit fresh and full of flavor. When you notice that the papaya has turned completely yellow, simply keep it in the fridge.
Airtight containers work well for cut fruits. If you have cut the papaya but want to enjoy it later in the day, it’s best to keep it in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator. Don’t forget to remove the seeds before shifting your cut fruit into the container.
If you want to make sure your papaya lasts a long time, your best option is to freeze it. Here’s how you can do it.
- Cut a papaya in half lengthwise and remove all the seeds.
- Cut the fruit in medium sized cubes.
- Place the cubes on a cookie sheet and place it in the freezer until the pieces of papaya freeze.
- Shift the frozen cubes into a zip lock bag and try to squeeze as much air out of it as possible.
- You can even use a vacuum sealer to suck the air out of the bag.
- Seal the bag and store it in the freezer!
The best thing about papaya is that it is generally available year-round! Whether you eat it raw, make a smoothie, or use it in a dessert, the sun-kissed papayas can brighten up your day anytime. It’s time you start storing your favorite fruit the right way to enjoy the most nutrients and best flavor whenever you want!