Papaya/Tree Melon/Carica Papaya

Once considered and exotic fruit, the papaya is perhaps the most popular fruit grown in tropical and sub tropical countries. More than an exotic fruit, papaya has improved the overall health of many people and has become recognized as one of the major medicinal plants in tropical countries. The papaya, papaw or pawpaw is the fruit of the plant Carica papaya, in the genus Carica. South American Native used as an important food source in ancient times. Many grow wild near the Mayan ruins. Though the exact area of origin is unknown, the papaya is believed native to tropical America, perhaps in southern Mexico and neighboring Central America. Papaya fruits vary a lot in size and shape, depending on the variety and type of plant (round, oval, pear-shaped, etc.) The fruits hang in large clusters along a central stem from the top down. Elongated watermelon-size papayas are not uncommon in Mexico, Asia, Puerto Rico and other Caribbean countries, weighing ten pounds or more; but those sold commercially are rarely more than six to eight inches in length and weighing about a pound.

Some varieties remain green when ripe, but most have skins that turn a deep yellow or orange. The flesh of the papaya may be yellow or a beautiful deep, salmon-pink color. It is recorded that seeds were taken to Panama and then the Dominican Republic before 1525 and cultivation spread to the West Indies and Bahamas and to Bermuda in 1616. Spaniards carried seeds to the Philippines about 1550 and the papaya traveled from there to Malacca and India. Seeds were sent from India to Naples in 1626. Now the papaya is familiar in nearly all tropical regions of the Old World and the Pacific Islands and has become naturalized in many areas. Seeds were probably brought to Florida from the Bahamas.

The most notable benefit of papaya is the abundance of vitamin C it contains. Vitamin C is a benefit of most fruits, and is often one that people take for granted. The potassium in papayas offers protection against high blood pressure. Papaya fruit is also rich in many essential B-complex vitamins such as Folic acid, pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin, and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish and play vital role in metabolism. Interesting note: The mass of peppery-tasting black seeds in the center of the papaya are an excellent addition to salad dressing. Some people take the benefits of papaya and apply them directly to their skin in the form of a mask, which is still just as effective as consuming it. The reason why it helps to prevent premature aging is because it contains antioxidants that repair the body’s cells and protect against disease.

Thai Green Papaya Salad

1 green papaya, shredded
1/2 cup peanuts (habanero spiced peanuts)
1-2 cups bean sprouts
Lots of tomatoes, regular tomatoes cut into long thin strips, grape tomatoes cut in half
1/2 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped if leaves are large
1 carrot

1/2 tsp. tamari sauce
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. fish sauce (if vegetarian, use vegetarian fish sauce)
1 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. agave nectar

Prepare the dressing by mixing all dressing ingredients together in a bowl and set it aside.
My papaya came shredded, but if yours is whole- peel it, then slice it in half and remove all the seeds. Using the largest grater you have, grate the papaya (or use a spiralizer if you are lucky enough to have one!). Place in a large bowl. Slice the carrot thinly or use a potato peeler to create peels. Then add the carrot, sliced tomatoes, bean sprouts, and most of the basil in with the papaya. Add the dressing, tossing to combine. Add the peanuts (you can either leave them whole, or roughly chop them).

Note: This dish is usually made spicy, so if you don’t have spice peanuts and like spicy foods you should add a red chili pepper.

Papaya Dressing

1 and 1/2 cup papaya cut into cubes,
1/2 cup of grape seed oil (which is more neutral in taste than olive oil),
1/4 cup of white balsamic vinegar or other good quality white vinegar,
1 shallot,
salt and pepper,
black cumin to decorate.

Peel off papaya and remove black seeds. Cut the fruit in pieces and put about 1 and 1/2 cup of it in a blender. Add chopped shallot, vinegar, and oil. Season with salt, pepper and blend into a smooth puree. Use black cumin for decorating and to enhance the taste.

About zoom50

“It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease”
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6 Responses to Papaya/Tree Melon/Carica Papaya

  1. kimkiminy says:

    I’ve heard that papaya is also very good for stomach ailments. Here’s another recipe that looked interesting:

    • zoom50 says:

      You’re right, kim. Papaya contains papain, a remarkable, protein-dissolving enzyme that eases many stomach ailments. Eating papaya after a meal makes it easier for the body to digest proteins. I drink a fruit shake almost everyday. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  2. akamonsoon says:

    Mmmmm! I love papaya! I have to get a special knife to cut them though because they are so darn hard to cut. 😉

    I had no idea that their seeds could be used as a mask. I may have to try that.

    • zoom50 says:

      Nothing like a bowl of freshly cut papayas for me-I just love them! I have always known that eating the fruit and drinking the juice was really good for your health.
      The seeds are use to make dressing, and you can use the fresh papaya to make a face mask to reduce old dead skin cells and make the skin smoother. My sister is absolutely obsessed with papaya seed salad dressing. The peppery-taste is super delish!!

  3. Aussie Emjay says:

    I used to eat a lot of pawpaws growing up in Australia. I would just but it in half, scrape the seeds out, squeeze some lime juice over it and then eat with a spoon. So good! 🙂

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