How to ripen papaya

By Martin Zibauer »Martin Zibauer

June 24th, 2011


Photo by Maggie Hoffman

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The papaya we can buy here is almost always unripe. Shredded green papaya makes a crunchy, if not very flavourful, base for the southeast Asian salad, but for eating as a fruit it’s a long wait for papaya to ripen on the kitchen counter. How do people in the tropics, where papaya grows, help it ripen faster? Ann Vanderhoof gives the secret on her blog:

Score the skin lengthwise along the ridges, from stem to blossom, with the tip of a sharp knife. This allows the white “milk” to seep out, and hastens the ripening. Try it – it works.

In the same post, she shows off a trophy-sized kingfish she and her husband, Steve, caught between Bequia and Union Island. Kingfish (or king mackerel) is a member of the tuna family. I’ve seen it for sale in Caribbean grocers in Toronto. Ann grilled kingfish steaks and served them with mango salsa.

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Jun. 28, 2011

8:34 pm! I have been wondering about this for many, many months, ever since learning of the health benefits of papaya, and adding it to my diet. Still, I can only find the unripe fruit in grocery stores. It's always a gamble. By the time the skin begins to turn golden, it's probably going bad inside. Plus, the carving is time-consuming. I'll bet I discard two to three times as much of the volume of the fruit as I keep, because I only like the pink-y / orange-y, ripe innards. I try to eat some fresh papaya every day, along with some ripe pineapple (for its unique anti-inflammatory qualities), since they go so nicely together. My compost bin is always filled with the rind and seeds.

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Martin Zibauer