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Sep 14, 2008 09:49 AM

What can I do with papaya?

I bought a papaya yesterday, under the mistaken impression it would taste like a cross between a mango and a pineapple. I had only ever had dried papaya (which is very sweet, needless to say), but the real thing was rather disappointing, kind of like a bland canteloupe. I hate to waste it, so is there anything I can do to jazz it up? I was thinking about making smoothies with the papaya and some plain yogurt I have (unfortunately not the very good Greek kind), and maybe some honey or brown sugar to sweeten it all up. Any other ideas?

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  1. Recently, those of us who are cooking Vietnamese with the Cookbooks of the Month had a discussion about green papaya, which is what I think you have in hand. I made a salad which is described in this thread....
    It's about mid-way down. Others contributed their own opinions and ideas. Worth a read, I think...and may help you.

    You're right about the blandness of the papaya.... it's not the sweet variety.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gio

      I've had that shredded papaya salad at Thai restaurants before, and mine definitely isn't green. The inner fruit was orange, but darker than canteloupe. I don't like the green papaya salad at all, which is why I was hoping this one would have been sweet. It was more bland than anything else, though.

    2. I have the impression that you cut it before it got fully ripe. They taste wonderful to me (though some people reportedly get armpit smell from them, never got that).

      When I have excess of papayas, or accidentally cut them before they are ripe enough to eat on their own, the resolution is to prepare a zesty salsa. Red onions, lime juice, a little bit of olive oil, cilantro will do the trick. Goes well with steamed, baked, broiled white fleshed/non oily fish.

      1. Salsa, taco topping and a great meat tenderizer. In Bolivia, we had a big slice w/ breakfast. Baltidos (smoothies) too.

        1. I also think you probably cut it open too early. Sometimes papaya can look really "bad" when it's ripe, it gets moldy easily too, but generally it's soft and it turns yellowish. If you have the larger one it's usually better (in my opinion) you cut it down the middle, scoop the seeds out. Scoop the flesh out of peel the entire piece and cube it, it's wonderful on it's own or make a salad with lime, cilantro, onions. I usually eat it plain because it doesn't last too long after it's peeled and cut. Tends to get mushy and the water comes out of it.

          1. From your general description, you might have purchased what is commonly known as a Mexican papaya. The smaller Hawaiian varieties are the shape and twice the size of a pear, the skin usually lighter green to yellow, and the skin is yellowish-orange to darker pink. The flavor can be somewhat strong and sweet, with a slightly putrid note that used to make me gag when I first was force-fed it as a kid. The Mexican varieties are huge (up to 10 pounds), somewhat darker green skin, and the flesh can vary from orange to pink to almost brownish maroon. The flavor profile is much more mild, and depending on its ripeness, can be somewhat bland and not sweet at all. In Mexico, I have had wonderful Mexican papaya, but have had far less productive experiences here in LA.

            I believe that Mexican cuisines will sometimes cook or bake this type of papaya, often with other fruits, and sweeten it with honey or some type of brown/turbinado sugar, maybe even some canned or fresh milk. You might try yahooing mexican recipes using papaya. I did see a recent episode of, "Mexico - One Plate at a Time," where Rick Bayless did cooked or bake recipe with papaya. Some love him, some hate him, but take it for what it's worth at least as a starting point if you decide to go in this direction: