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Synonym: pawpaw

botanical name: Carica papaya




Papayas are called the melons of the tropics. They originated in the tropical regions of Central America and southern Mexico. They are commonly cultivated today in South America, Asia, South and East Africa, North and Central America, and Oceania.

The goods exported to Germany come mainly from Brazil, Ghana, Hawaii, South Africa and Thailand. By far the largest producer is Brazil. Tinned goods reach us from Taiwan, India, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia.



Solo and Sunrise are two of the best-known varieties of papaya and are exported with particular frequency because, unlike other varieties, they remain quite small and are better suited than the larger fruits for sale here. While papayas were rather rare here some years ago, they are a year-round product today, due to increasing demand and are available not only in specialty shops.

The mountain papaya is another variety, which is grown in only limited quantities, however. The fruits are quite small, about the size of a fist. They are oval and have green-yellow stripes.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Papayas grow like coconuts on a tree-like bush that can reach 10 m in height. They are roundish and elongated and slightly oval, and they form a cicatrix at the upper end. They vary greatly in size, depending on the given variety. The fruits that are sold in Germany usually do not weigh more than 600 g.


The skin of an unripe papaya is dark green; while it ripens it turns yellow, yellow-green or yellow-orange. As a rule, the fruit is ripe when the skin is yellowish and yields to light pressure from a finger.

The colour of the pulp varies and may be yellowish or reddish. The flavour resembles that of melons and is very sweet. Since the pulp is low in fruit acid it is rather bland and is usually spiced up in preparation for eating.




100 g contain:


Papaya, fresh

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Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Because the fruits continue to ripen, they are harvested not when fully ripe but while still in a greenish condition. However, if they are harvested too early, they will not ripen at all. The fruits must be transported very carefully from the producer to the country where they are sold, due to their sensitivity to shock. For this reason they are frequently sold wrapped in paper or foam nets.

The fruits are normally ripe when they are bought. Storage time is therefore limited; they should not be kept for more than 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Ripe papayas generate ethylene.


Presumed effect on health

Unripe fruits and the tree itself contain a thick milky sap that has two enzymes with a pepsin-like effect, i.e. they are proteolytic. They are chymopapain and papain. The latter has a slightly laxative and digestive effect. A dried extract of the milky sap is sold under the name papaytin.

In tropical areas the seeds are used as a remedy for intestinal parasites.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Raw papayas are popular. To enhance the quite mild aroma the fruit can be sprinkled with lemon juice, halved like a grapefruit and spooned out of the skin. It can just as well be cut into pieces and eaten as a dessert or as a between-meals snack. Papayas can taste delicious added to tropical fruit salads and hearty poultry salads.


Like melons, the fruit can be wrapped in slices of ham or filled with shrimp cocktail. Or papaya mousse can be enhanced with juice, brandy and port. The papaya can be eaten cooked as well. The raw fruit is prepared like a vegetable. Papayas are used industrially to make juice. They are also tinned or dried and candied.


The milky sap is not only a digestive; it is also used in the textile industry and as a meat tenderizer. Only a very small amount of papain added to the water in which meat is cooked is sufficient to make the meat especially tender. In large amounts it can even make the meat disintegrate.






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