Hawaii Grown Fruit of the Month – Papaya

Welcome to our “Hawaii Grown Fruit of the Month” Blog series.  Hawaii is an amazing place to have an adventure. Wherever we go and whatever we do there is always a first time and a first impression. Experiencing new foods is no exception. There is some pretty unique looking fruit available on the islands, I encourage you to explore the fun and exciting realm of exotic fruit. To learn more about last month’s featured fruit, Lilikoi, click here.

The first time I had papaya I was very young, and to me it tasted terrible. Years later I tried it again and meh. I didn’t love it but knowing it was healthy – I ate it.  Then, I got to Hawaii and re-discovered Papaya to be one of my favorites. The point I am making is that our taste buds change and no two fruits, even from the same tree, taste exactly the same.  As far as knowing what to expect, know this,  papaya can be pretty inconsistent. Please let me share some of what I have learned about papaya.

What is Papaya:
Papaya fruits vary greatly in shape, size, and flavor. They can be round or oblong and weigh between 1/4 pound and 12 pounds.

Where to get Papaya:
Farmers Markets, Roadside fruit stands, Grocery stores, Neighbors or in your own yard.

When to Harvest Papaya:
Papaya is a fast growing plant that is easily grown from seed. Some varieties will reach 30’ in height and provide fruit in as soon as 6 months. One plant will produce almost year round for up to 3 years at which time the plant will become so tall that harvesting will no longer be convenient. For this reason it is important to continue planting those seeds in order to maintain a consistent rotation of delicious papayas.

How to eat Papaya:
The papaya should be firm and give slightly to pressure. Cut the papaya in half long ways. Scoop the seeds out. You can eat the seeds, they have a peppery flavor and are great for digestion. The papaya can be eaten with a spoon using the skin as a bowl or peeled and cut into slices or chunks. Compost the skin, and eat, blend or plant the seeds. Enjoyable blended in smoothies or on its own.

There are several varieties of papaya and often even 2 papaya from the same tree will taste different. This is one of those foods that may need to be tried and tried again because you never know what you are going to get.  If your papaya tastes a little to flowery, squeeze some lime juice over the fruit.  Mmmm, delicious!

Why eating Papaya is recommended:
Rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C, Vitamin A and fiber. Papaya promote digestive health, support a healthy anti-inflammatory response and supports a healthy immune system.

More about Papaya:
Papaya is susceptible to the Papaya Ringspot Virus. From what I have researched the Papaya Ringspot virus is not harmful to humans. Many Papaya growing in Hawaii have been Genetically Modified to remove the ringspot virus. If you don’t want to eat GMO papaya make sure to get organic papaya or Kapoho Solo Papaya and plant those organic seeds!!!.

My papaya trees have had the virus in the past. We just eat around the ringspots, did this for years. It made the fruit less attractive but it did not affect the taste of the fruit.

The GMO papayas are being called, SunUp Papaya. They have been bred with Standard papayas to produce a GMO hybrid Rainbow Papaya, Sunrise Papaya and Strawberry Papaya.

Conscious Maui