4 Easy Steps On How To Tell If Papaya Is Ripe

It is easy to determine the maturity level of papaya cultivars, which the skin will turn yellow when it’s ripe. But for the green ones with only strokes of orange shade? You’ll need guidance!

Depending on cultivars, some papayas remain green with only a slight of orange or yellow even though they are ripe. Since you can’t rely on yellow skin, it’s super tricky to choose which one to buy. Especially if they are stacked into one in the supermarket section. And for that reason, our experts offer you quick tips on how to tell if papaya is ripe.

Besides, we’ll briefly discuss how to improve their taste and shelf-life. Thus, you can enjoy the papaya longer! Some easy recipes to transform your papaya into delicious cuisine are also available. Interested? Let us walk you through every section to dive into the details.

How To Choose Fresh Papaya Fruit?

Having the knowledge to choose fresh papaya fruits is as important as determining which one is ripe. Thus, you don’t need to deal with rotten flesh and waste money to purchase one. The fresh papaya is rich in sweetness with a touch of the musky smell. They are also a bit soft in almost all parts.

The green color will fade with a hint of yellow or orange. Meanwhile, others will turn completely yellow, making it easier to say they are ripe already.

how to tell if papaya is ripe
Papaya Fruit

On the other hand, there are some alarming signs your papaya is not in a good condition. If you find one or two of these, they must be discarded at all times. Check out below!

  • Having molds on the skin and/or flesh. In this case, you must throw it away as there is a high risk that molds produce toxin or allergy-induced substances that are harmful.
  • Showing unusual dark spots all over the skin. They are usually followed by mushy textures.
  • Emitting off, rotten odor. You can cut open the fruit. If there’s no mold growth, you can remove the rotten part and eat the rest.

1. What Is The White Stuff In Papaya?

Talking further about papaya, you may also wonder what white things are in your papaya when you cut the fruit open? Well, it’s white latex!

The papaya latex is rich in cysteine endopeptidases, including papain enzyme, chymopapain enzyme, glycyl endopeptidase enzyme and caricain enzyme. The latex is actually beneficial to fight infection and heal your wounds. In cooking, the papain enzyme can tenderize the meat.

Generally, white latex is abundantly found in unripe papaya, while less is expected in ripe ones. However, consuming this latex from unripe papaya fruit can result in a burning esophagus. It also may cause uterine contraction.

2. How Long Does Papaya Stay Fresh?

After harvesting, your ripe papaya will only last around 2-3 days at room temperature, around 25°C – 27°C. Meanwhile, keeping them in the refrigerator will prolong the shelf-life up to a week. Of course, it must be followed by proper storing practices.

Moreover, you can put them in a vacuum food container or polyethylene bag to prevent rot. Also, don’t lay them next to food-producing ethylene, such as apples or bananas, to avoid ripening acceleration.

How Do You Know When Papaya Is Ripe?

It is easy to determine the maturity level of papaya cultivars, which the skin will turn yellow when it’s ripe. But for the green ones with only strokes of orange shade? You’ll need guidance! With zero insights, you will end up buying an unripe one that takes a few days to devour.

how to tell if papaya is ripe
Papaya Is Ripe

So, how to tell if papaya is ripe? Check out these four easy steps!

  • Observe the color change. Green skin will slowly turn to yellow or orange. Some cultivars may not entirely transform their skins. But at least you can see a hint of both shades appearing when the tropical fruit ripens.
  • Smells sweet and musky. The green papaya won’t give you a sweet aroma. It emits a pungent odor. Thus, it is a key factor in whether your papaya is ripe.
  • Slightly soft texture. Like most fruits, the texture will be delicate to touch when they are ripe. However, any mushy and soft surface may indicate a rotten part.
  • Getting bigger. You can notice that the volume of papayas will increase as they continue to rip. Nonetheless, some may not see the difference. To boost the size, you can fertilize your papaya (if you plant one) with manure.

How Long Does A Papaya Take To Ripen?

By reaching this section, we assume you have understood how to tell if papaya fruit is ripe. Now, let’s dive deeper into the world of this tropical fruit by finding out the time it takes for papaya to perfectly ripen.

In general, papaya will roughly take about 5-6 months after flowering until they are ready to harvest. They must show patches of yellow color on the skin when they start to ripen. From that point, you can let them sit in your kitchen at room temperature for approximately 3 to 5 days to fully mature.

Papaya Fruit on The Tree
Papaya Fruit on The Tree

However, it will take longer when you plant papayas in cold climates due to low temperatures. In some cases, they require 9 to 12 months to rip. But don’t worry! You can stimulate and accelerate ripening by putting these fruits into a paper bag. Consequently, it will trigger ethylene gas production, which boosts maturation.

Furthermore, it is better to put them next to bananas or apples, which are known to produce ethylene, to aid in ripening. Or, simply put them together in the bag. Additionally, we highly recommend not storing the half-ripe or green papaya in cold storage as it will slow down the ripening process.

What Does A Papaya Taste Like When Is Ripen?

Once papaya is perfectly ripe, it will treat you with a sweet taste. The texture resembles ripe mango, which is delicate but lets you savor the crunchiness from the edges. Moreover, you may feel slightly bitter if the white part (white latex) is eaten.

The latex contains papain enzyme, which gives you a slight bitterness in ripe papaya fruit.

how to tell if papaya is ripe
Papaya Tropical Fruit

In addition, people usually eat it raw by cutting it into cubes. But, little did they know that papaya can be a delicious snack you must try. What are those?

1. How Do You Prepare A Papaya To Eat?

Before you cook them into various delicious cuisines, you must prepare them first. Here are some tips for doing it to avoid bitterness:

  • Cut the top and bottom ends of your papaya fruits.
  • Wash your papaya fruits under running tap water thoroughly. Eating them without washing can leave a trace amount of pesticides which may be harmful for your health.
  • Cut the fruit in half and remove the seeds. Though they are edible, they may interrupt your sensory experience while munching the flesh because of the shells. Besides, the hard shells are impossible to digest, so they will just go through your feces. Make sure you also remove the white latex so you won’t taste any bitterness.
  • Then, peel off the skin using a small, sharp knife. We don’t recommend you eat the flesh with the skin as it contains latex that will leave bitter aftertaste.
  • Lastly, slice the flesh into cubes or whatever shape you want.

2. How Do You Make Papaya Sweeter?

Suppose you pick or buy half-ripe papaya or ripen it with a bitter taste. In that case, you can try to squeeze lemon or lime on the fruits. It will cover the bitterness and highlight the sweet flavor of your tastebuds. Furthermore, if you want other flavors, try to sprinkle cayenne pepper or ancho chile powder. It will give you a whole new sensory experience with a blend of sweet and spicy you’ll never experience before.

3. What Does Unripe Papaya Taste Like?

While the ripe papaya pampers you with delicious, sweet flesh and aroma, the unripe papaya or known as green papaya is odorless. And the taste is awfully bitter! The cause of this off flavor is white latex that contains papain enzyme. Besides giving a bitter taste, it will also hurt your esophagus if you dare to ingest unripe papaya. Meanwhile, the juice can leave your skin irritated.

But surprisingly, the green papaya is often included in indigenous recipes from several countries, like Thailan, named Green Papaya Salad. They are usually shredded into fresh salad with spices, chilies, tomatoes, tamarind, and more. This exotic dish will give you a blend of sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter taste into one plate.

4. What Is Papaya Good For?

Papaya fruits are tasty and healthy! This tropical treasure contains vitamins A, C, and E, which are natural antioxidants. They can help you prevent heart disease by lowering cholesterol levels in your blood. In addition, the fruit is rich in fiber, which is beneficial for the digestive system, especially for smooth bowel movements. Thus, preventing constipation.

However, overeating papaya is not recommended as it can trigger gas production, which causes bloating. Furthermore, it may lead to respiratory problems, for example, wheezing and asthma.

In addition, the green papaya believed to share benefits, despite being tricky to cook and possessing health threats. Especially to cure asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. However, this claim needs further research and examination.

How To Store Papaya?

Just like other fresh fruits and vegetables, papaya is a perishable fruit that can easily deteriorate if you don’t keep it properly. Therefore, it is crucial to understand its characteristics to choose the best storage method to prolong its shelf-life.

Papaya is a Perishable Fruit
Papaya is a Perishable Fruit

Here are some tips to store papayas so you can enjoy them for up to seven days!

1. How To Store Fresh Papaya?

If your papaya needs a halfway to rip, you can let fresh papaya lay in the kitchen with no worries. Especially when the room temperature is low (recommended in the fall or winter). However, you must immediately store them in the fridge if you buy ripe or overripe ones.

Warm temperatures, like in the summer, will continue and even spur the ripening process. It is because the ethylene gas production, enzymatic activities, and respiration are faster at such conditions. As a consequence, your papaya will start to decay in a few hours.

2. How Long Does Papaya Last In The Fridge?

The best method to preserve papaya fruits is cold storage. In this case, put them in a fridge. Papaya can last for around 5 to 7 days at fridge temperature (approximately 5°C) due to delay in the ripening process. It is because ethylene gas production is also inhibited. So, you can consume your papaya longer!

Also, our experts recommend storing them in a whole since any cut will make the fruit prone to cross-contamination. If you want to keep the cut fruit, cover the part with vacuum plastic. To save space, you can cut the papaya first into cubes and then store them in a vacuum food container to make it last.

3. How Long Does Papaya Last Once Cut?

Any cut or scars on papaya skin can also boost maturity. Hence, keeping them in a fridge is vital. Generally, cut papaya you store in a fridge can last up to 2 to 3 days. Don’t forget to keep them in a vacuum food container to avoid oxygen exposure that can encourage mold growth on the flesh.

Final Thought

The key characteristics of ripe papaya are a color change from green to yellow or orange, a sweet aroma with a hint of musky, soft texture all over the skin, and bigger sizes. You can store them in the refrigerator if they are fully ripe to prevent deterioration and make them last for a week. For the green papayas, keep them at room temperature to accelerate the ripening.


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FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Can you eat an unripe papaya?

Some people eat unripe papaya to add to their salads. Nonetheless, you better not eat them as they contain papain, an enzyme that may hurt your esophagus. There also research reported that consuming unripe papaya can cause fetus defect. Thus, they are highly prohibited for pregnant women.

Why is my papaya not ripening?

Papaya is a tropical fruit that needs warm temperatures to boost the ripening process. It will delay the ripening once you expose or store them in cold storage, e.g., refrigerator. Hence, it is better to rest them at room temperature (around 25°C – 27°C) to let the ethylene gas (fruit-ripening hormone) work properly.

Will papaya ripen after cutting?

Yes, but highly unlikely they will rot before that happens. After cutting, the flesh will be exposed to oxygen and perishable microbial pathogens that can perish the fruit. To prevent excessive exposure, you can place the cut papaya into a paper bag then fold it. They will ripen within 2-3 days, depending at what maturity stage when you cut them.

Does papaya ripen in the fridge?

They may ripe in the fridge but will take very slowly because of the cold temperatures. Papaya produces ethylene gas which helps them to ripen the flesh. Nonetheless, the ethylene gas won’t be able to rip your fruit unless you store them at room temperature.

In addition, cold storage (like refrigeration) is great to extend papaya’s shelf-life. The ripe papaya can last up to a week in the refrigerator, while only surviving for 3 days at max in room temperature.

Why is my papaya so bitter?

If you taste bitter papaya, we assume you eat the unripe ones. The bitterness comes from papain enzyme, which is basically a protein that has off flavor. Moreover, the unripe papayas have no sweet smell like the ripe fruits emit.

Another reason is you may unintentionally eat the papaya seed or skin. In case you feel a trace of bitterness, you can squeeze lemon to make the fruit sweeter.

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