The Versatility of the Papaya or Pawpaw

Papaya, papaye or pawpaws are found all over the Caribbean and South and Central America as well as in Southeast Asia. If you are lucky to have a tree in your yard , there a bounty of goodness to look forward to at various stages of maturity. I recently had a tree that produced a whopping 40 plus fruit at once. I felt sorry for the thin trunk as it heaved under the weight of its bounty. We had to put wooden supports to help keep the trunk erect until the fruit were mature.

Papayas are delicious fruit  and can be of the variety which produces a yellow fruit or a deep orange colored flesh. They can be sliced and eaten directly from the skin. A  nice addition is a squeeze of lime. This brightens the fruit and makes it a delicious breakfast item. When ripe but firm, they can be peeled and sliced or cubed for fruit salads. Papayas can  blended into smoothies or made into milk shakes. Cold papaya juice with a bit of fresh lime juice and some freshly grated nutmeg is delicious. My decadent favorite is papaya juice blended with ice and condensed milk. Add a pinch of salt and some grated nutmeg and you have a dessert in a glass!!

Rich in Vitamin C ,the  papaya fruit is rather versatile. and can be used in many forms. The high level of natural pectin make it ideal for making jellies and preserves. Its beautiful shiny black seeds can be blended and added to salad dressing for a peppery flavor. The leaves of the papaya can be crushed and used to tenderize meat. Green papaya is delicious in the Thai salad  Som tam, mixed with pungent fish sauce, limes, sugar and Chile peppers. I have also made a gratin of green papaya with a Bechamel  sauce;  its flavor was very refined and similar to that of a gratin of mirlton. In Guyana green papaya is often shredded or cubed and added to fiery hot wiriri pepper sauce; much like a pickle!

Summer is almost here and papayas will be readily available. Next time you buy a papaya, try using it in a new way!

 Papaya Seed Dressing:


1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup vegetable oil

3 tbsp finely chopped onion

2 tbsp papaya seeds


In a blender, add the vinegar, salt, sugar and mustard.

Blend together to incorporate.

Add the vegetable oil and  make an emulsion.

Add the chopped onion and the papaya seeds. Blend until the seeds resemble ground black pepper.

Pour into a glass container and store in refrigerator.

This dressing is great with a green or garden salad.

Can be kept refrigerated for 2 weeks.

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