Papayas are a polarising fruit -- you either love them or hate them. Those who hate the fruit detest its flavour and texture, and papaya lovers enjoy it for the very same reasons. Papayas are a common fixture in fruit salads and smoothies. They also have a wealth of nutritional benefits.
It's called papita in Hindi and is grown in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. The pulp of the fruit is bright orange in colour, an indicator of its high vitamin A content. It also contains the immune-boosting nutrient vitamin C and E; B complex such as pantothenic acid and folate; and minerals like magnesium and potassium. It is also a good source of dietary fibre and is consumed to quell gastric problems like indigestion and acidity.
Regularly consuming papayas can boost heart health and protect against cardiovascular illnesses. It also prevents the damage caused by free radicals. Papayas are also good for people with diabetes and cholesterol. Both the pulp and the seeds of papaya contain high amounts of antioxidants that reduce inflammation in the body. It also aids in weight loss and the treatment of metabolic disorders. Love it or hate it, papaya is among the most nutritious fruits.
Soon, the markets will be flooded with this delectable fruit since India sees peak papaya season between August and November.
Buying papayas can be frustrating since most of the time you may end up with overripe or raw papaya. There may have been instances when you bought papaya thinking it's ripe for consumption, only to realise it's raw inside. Despite looking plump and robust, papayas can be often deceptive. Once cut, it's difficult to ripen it naturally. It could also rot faster.
Overripe papaya is equally unpleasant. It may have a mushy texture and an offensive odour.
If only there was a method to judge whether the papaya is ripe or not. Fear not! Here's a little tutorial to guide you.
1. Colour test
The most obvious test is the colour. The green ones are definitely raw but the orange ones need not be ripe. Sometimes, the papaya may be mottled with green and yellow patches. They could be ready for consumption, but the colour is not always a foolproof test. That's why there are other more reliable ways to check the ripeness of papaya.
2. Check the head
When you are buying papayas, check the head of the papaya to know whether it is ripe. Press down gently with your fingers. Ripe papayas may be soft to the touch and may yield to pressure from your fingertips. If there is resistance, the papaya is most likely raw.
3. Press the fruit gently
With your fingers, press the fruit gentle along its length to see if it feels soft. If you plan to consume the fruit immediately, buy the soft ones. If it seems too mushy, you will have to consume it first since it can rot if kept for too long. But if you are not planning to eat the papaya immediately and would wait 3-4 days before you do, pick the ones that are a little firm to touch.
How to store papaya
Now that you have bought your perfect papaya, it's time to store them properly so that they don't rot or fall prey to fruit flies. Papayas are quite delicate and can turn into mush if it's not stored properly.
If you don't want to eat the papaya immediately, refrigerate it. The cool temperature will slow down the ripening process of the papaya. On the contrary, if you bought semi-ripe papaya and want to hasten its ripening process, store it at room temperature.
2. Wrap its head with a newspaper
To store the papaya in a fridge, use an old newspaper to wrap its head. This method ensures that the papaya stays fresh for a longer time.
3. Cover cut fruit with cling wrap
Exposing the cut fruit to the cold refrigerator temperature can strip it of its taste, texture and nutrients. If you don't want to consume the fruit in a single go, cover the rest of the cut fruit tightly with a cling wrap. The plastic will keep the exposed part of the fruit fresh and prevent it from spoiling.