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Botanical name: Carica pentagona


The babaco was not discovered until 1922 in Ecuador. It is a hybrid cultivar of the mountain papaya and the chamburo, or wild papaya. Later it reached New Zealand. As the babaco requires a cool, frost-free, subtropical climate, New Zealand was and is an ideal place for it to grow. Today it is also cultivated in Italy, Israel and Greece.



If babacos are available in at all Germany, then during the months October to December.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Babacos are 20-30 cm long, 10-12 cm thick, pentagonal, and can weigh up to 1.5 kg. They are flattened at one end and taper to a point at the other. Depending on how ripe they are, the skin is yellow-green to golden yellow. Their pulp is yellow. Babacos taste sweetly acidic and are very juicy. Their characteristic, lightly perfumed aroma is difficult to describe.



Like the papaya, with which it is related, the babaco supplies the proteolytic enzyme papain, which has an effect similar to that of the body's own digestive enzymes pepsin and trypsin and is therefore supposed to be good for the digestion. It is also used in medicine. The fruits contain large amounts of vitamin C (ca. 30 mg%), and this even prevents the cut fruit from turning brown.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Babacos are ready to eat when their skin is golden yellow and the fruit has a pleasant aroma. Fruits that are still green can ripen at room temperature. Put an apple next to them; it gives off the hormone ethylene, which will accelerate the ripening process of the babacos. They are not difficult to store and can be kept in the refrigerator for several weeks.


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

After they have been washed, babacos can be eaten fresh with their skin. Sugar and some orange or lemon juice will enhance their flavour. Moreover, they are good added to sweet or savoury salads, as a cake topping, or puréed as a cream dessert. They can be used as a substitute for tomatoes on pizza. Babacos are processed industrially as tinned goods, jam and juice.



In tropical countries, the juice of babacos is used to marinate meat. The papain they contain has a tenderizing effect.





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