One of the exciting things about Bountiful Baskets is the occasional opportunity to try new fruits and vegetables. Once in a while, something really unique and unavailable in my Northern neck of the middle-of-nowhere
woods Great Plains shows up in the basket. Today’s basket was one of those baskets! Papaya. PAPAYA! The only papaya I have ever tried before today is in Dole Tropical Canned Fruit—obviously not the same at all as eating the real, uncanned, fresh fruit. I am SO EXCITED! And my kids are too! Baloo the bear from Disney’s Jungle Book even sang a song mentioning the Papaya (in the Bare Necessities—you don’t need a claw to pick the big pawpaw!)
It is rumored that Christopher Columbus, upon trying a Papaya, called it the “Fruit of the Angels”. And, an amazing fruit it truly is! Aside from tasting heavenly and sweet, this fruit is PACKED with some power-house nutrients—provitamin A carotenoids, B vitamins, Vitamin C, lycopene, dietary minerals, and fiber, as well as many phytochemicals, including phynols (antioxidants). Papayas have a lot of natural pectin, which is useful for making jellies and jams. It is also the only plant that produces papain, an enzyme which helps break down proteins, and is often used as a meat tenderizer. Papayas are low calorie, and high fiber. The papaya seeds are edible and are sometimes used as a substitute for pepper, as they have a bitter but somewhat peppery flavor. The leaves have been made into teas in some parts of the world to help combat malaria and other ailments. And that is just the tip of the iceberg! Truly, a rather spectacular plant, and a spectacular fruit!
For more information about some of the health benefits of the papaya, here are a few links:
WARNING: If you have a latex allergy and are unable to eat avocados and bananas, you should also avoid eating the papaya, as there could be possible allergic reactions.
Here is how you eat it!
- Wash it
- Cut it in half
- Gently scoop the seeds out. Save the seeds to use in a salad dressing, or discard them.
- Either peel it gently with a knife or a vegetable peeler, or scoop out the soft meat with a spoon or melon baller
- Savor something tropical!
Here are some recipes to try, if you want to venture into cooking with the papaya instead of just chowing down on it!
p.s. If you would like a couple more Papaya recipes, Check out today’s (12-1-12) recipe round-ups!