Papaya is a fruit I fell in love with when we were in Thailand and Fiji. It was always on the breakfast fruit platter and the velvety texture was amazing. I hadn’t bought Australian Papaya often though because I never knew how to pick them, sometimes they were sour and sometimes they were amazing! I wasn’t really willing to risk it so left it as a tropical holiday healthy treat. However, last week I went to an event for Australian Papaya and learnt a lot about the nutritional content, how to choose a yummy one when purchasing and also how to cook with it! If you also love the fruit and want to enjoy it at home, check out these tips from papaya grower, Gerard Kath.
When is it best to buy Australian papaya?
Spring and autumn are the peak seasons for Australian papaya and papaw but it is available all year round.
Are pawpaw and Papaya the same thing?
No! They are different fruits! Yes it blew my mind too and it explains the different tastes I was experiencing when I bought it previously!
The yellow paw paw is rounder than papaya, with yellow/orange skin, bright yellow/orange flesh and a less sweet flavour. The red papaya is a pear-shaped tropical fruit with green/yellow skin. It has bright orange, smooth flesh and a sweet flavour.
What nutritional benefits does Papaya offer?
Not only does papaya deliver a taste of the tropics, accredited practising dietitian and Australian Papaya ambassador, Caitlin Reid says that it’s the perfect healthy snack to include in your diet.
“Papaya is packed with goodness which is vital for overall health. Just one serve (150g) packs in essential nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, folate and fibre. Papaya is also low in kilojoules and has a moderate glycaemic index (GI) so they keep you fuller for longer,” Caitlin says.
“Mums, bubs and mums-to be in particular benefit from the unique combination of antioxidants in papaya because it helps growing bodies develop and stay healthy.”
Here are Gerard’s top tips for picking, storing and enjoying your papaya this season:
- Maturity is key – Get the most of your papaya experience by eating fruit that is at the right stage of maturity. The full-bodied flavour of papaya only develops in fully ripened fruit – so look out for fruit with slightly yellow skin. Or if you love a green papaya salad, then dig in when the papaya is still under-ripe.
- Perfect pick – Give your papaya a gentle squeeze under the stem. If it’s ripe, it will give slightly. If it’s a bit hard, pop your papaya in the fruit bowl to ripen.
- More vibrant the better – When selecting pre-cut papaya, look for vibrant coloured flesh as this ensures that it will be flavourful and ripe. When the fruit is paler and lacking vibrancy your fruit will be less juicy and flavoursome.
- Sign of sweetness – The freckles on the skin of a papaya is not a sign of damage, it’s a sign of sweetness – so don’t shy away from a nicely freckled fruit. Fruit that is grown in-land regions of Australia gets this freckle across the skin, whereas coastal-grown fruit can be clean skinned and just as sweet!
- Ice Ice Baby – Papaya can be an incredibly refreshing snack when it’s kept cool like a watermelon. Once ripe, store your papaya in the fridge and enjoy with a squeeze of fresh lime for a zesty spring snack.
How to prepare a papaya
Enjoy your papaya by cutting it in half and scooping out the seeds with a spoon. You can also cut it into segments, slice off the skin with a knife, then into cubes as desired.
Cooking ideas for papaya
Use papaya and papaw to give a tropical touch in sweet and savoury dishes. They pair well with coconut, passionfruit, seafood, curries and pork. Squeeze fresh lime on top for a fresh snack or top off your healthy breaky bircher bowl with it. You can also try it in a smoothie or as a salsa!
It’s also great to use as a Papaya boat as pictured above, topping with some of the toppings included in the pictures below. Get creative with this tropical Australian grown fruit!