How green is my papaya?
Let’s talk about ripening Papaya.
Q: What fruit can be used to tenderise meat or cure stomach complaints?
Papaya is an incredibly versatile fruit. It can be eaten by itself, made into jams, chutneys and pickles or used like a vegetable when still green.
The fruit has very delicate flesh so papaya farmers harvest their crop when the fruit shows the first signs of turning from green so that they transport without bruising. Knowing when they will ripen is dependent upon:
- The amount of ethlyene gas the fruit is exposed to and sometimes this process might mean it will end up on your kitchen bench completing the ripening cycle.
- Characteristics of seasonal changes,
- The behavior of the ambient air – the temperature of the fruit while ripening helps to control the process and dictate the speed that the fruit ripens. The heat from the fruit pulp needs to be able to escape so airflow is essential, and degree of fruit maturity
So, how do you ripen them?
It will depend how green they are.
In winter the ripening can take up to two weeks if left to their own devices at room temperature. In summer the ambient heat will mean a ripening of 3 to 4 days.
If you aren’t in a rush you can leave the papaya at room temperature and they will ripen in 3-4 days if sitting on top of apples. Make sure you turn them occasionally so that they ripen evenly. Once their skin turns yellow-orange and they yield to gentle pressure, they are ripe and ready to eat. BUT sit them like they are hanging from the tree otherwise they won’t ripen properly – the stem bit upwards.
If you want to eat your papaya sooner – then pop it into a paper bag or wrap in kitchen paper. This will trap the fruit’s ethylene gas* and help it ripen more quickly while still allowing for healthy oxygen exchange through the bag. It’s respiration while ripening decreases the oxygen and emits carbon dioxide so this air flow is important. Keep the paper bag in a dark, cool place as excessive heat will cause the papaya to rot rather than ripen (so definitely not near a heater or stove). Turn occasionally.
INCREASE RIPENING SPEED
If you want to speed up the process even more you can add a pear, banana or an apple to the bag to increase the amount of ethylene gas present. Papayas will not ripen while they are in the fridge.
Once the fruit is ripe you need to either consume it or pop it in the fridge to prevent it becoming overripe.
WHAT NEXT?….. Add lime and more lime…..
Peel, slice and squeeze some lime juice over the top. This transforms Papaya. You’ll feel like your in a hammock on a tropical Island eating papaya newly picked.
Try a Papaya cocktail … just blend a cup of ice, ¼ of a papaya, a dash of orange juice, 30ml Triple Sec and a squeeze of lime juice. You could add 30ml of vodka if you’re after an extra kick! Add some salt to the Rim.
GREEN PAPAYA SALAD
Or if you just can’t wait for your papaya to ripen try this … Green Papaya Salad
*Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that affects the growth, development, ripening, and aging of all plants.
- 1 small red chilli, finely dice
- 400g cooked prawns
- 1 small papaya, clean and cut into squares
- 1tbs sweet chilli sauce
- 1tbs brown sugar
- 2 tsp fish sauce
- juice of one lime
- cashews & bean shoots to garnish
- Combine in a bowl and gently mix. In a jug combine chilli sauce,sugar, fish sauce and lime juice. Stir and pour over prawn and papaya mixture. Stir to combine.
- Remove 4 inner leaves from an iceberg lettuce and divide the prawn and papaya mixture between them. Garnish.
*Ethylene is a natural plant hormone that affects the growth, development, ripening, and senescence (aging) of all plants.