Papaya is one of the exotic and bright colored sweet hefty, plump and fleshy healthy fruits that is known to originate in Central America and Southern Mexico. In this modern time, papaya is cultivated throughout the tropical areas and in the hot parts of the subtropical zones of the world. Other names of papaya are pawpaw or papaw. They are great for your diet and for making smoothies and salads.
Have you ever tried eating this fruit? If not yet, try it once at least and get a pleasant experience of tropical sweetness! Did you know that papayas are high nutritious? This tropical fleshy fruit possesses excellent sources of Vitamin C and antioxidants. Papaya fruit contains nutrients that help boost your immune system, fight inflammation, and protects you from cancer and heart diseases. Furthermore, papaya is highly rich in fiber, which aids in digestion and weight loss.
You can find papaya at the grocery store in some levels of ripeness, from under-ripe to ripe (at some point, overripe). And sometimes, the displays you see on-display were already damaged. At home, you may also find them already contaminated with fungus or mold when you have stored it for some time.
If you are unsure if your papaya is still consumable, this post will give you the answers. Here, you will learn about storage, shelf life, and spoilage of papaya.
How to Tell if a Papaya Is Ripe
First things first, it is essential that you know how to identify between unripe from ripe papayas. Unripe papayas are odorless, firm to the touch, and green in color. It will turn yellow (and sometimes with a pink hue) when it starts to ripen. If you have bought them still green and firm, they will take a longer time to mature than compared to the ones if you have already purchased the ones that are yellow and softer to touch.
Over time, the papaya fruit ripens and becomes softer and sweeter. From an unripe state, it will take one week for the papaya to ripen. When the entire fruit becomes overly sweet to rotten smell and yellow or orange to brown in color, it shows that your papaya is already overripe. In this state, your papaya becomes more prone to bruising, rotting, and shriveling.
Before eating it, you have to inspect and smell your papaya’s flesh to see if it is still edible by cutting it open. To slice it open, first, slice off the stem and then divide the fruit into two by slicing it lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop the papaya seeds out before scooping flesh.
Alternatively, you can peel the skin using the knife and then slice and dice it like how you do with a cantaloupe.
How to store papaya?
Please take note of these tips on proper handling and storing of your precious papaya fruit:
Can I freeze the papaya fruit?
Yes, you can. But, it is not encouraged unless you have your reasons. If ever you run out of space for your ripe papaya, or you just have too many to store, or you want to keep papaya fruit for a far-future use, you may consider storing them in the freezer then.
Your papaya should already be ripe before you freeze it. Freezing it unripe will not ripen after you thaw it. Instead, you will have mushy and tasteless papaya.
Do these steps before you toss your papaya inside the freezer:
Also, you can freeze your papayas by adding a sugar solution.
Here is a little warning: Freezing your papaya is not always the best option as it will become soft and watery once it is already thawed. In this state, you can use it to make a papaya smoothie, though. Well, you can partially thaw it so while it can still hold its shape, but you have to consume it right away before it is completely softened, mushy, and watery.
Can it go bad?
Like most fruits, papaya can go bad, especially that they ripen quite fast. After all, papaya has high sugar content. The warmer its storage environment, the quicker it ripens, and the sooner it also spoils if you don’t pay close attention to it. This is why it is best to refrigerate it, especially when it starts to ripen.
How long does it last?
There are some factors that affect the shelf life of the papaya fruit. It depends on when they are harvested, how it was transported, and how it was stored.
It is not necessary to squeeze your papaya to find out if it is ripe. Papaya fruits bruise easily, and it turns dark. So, all you got to do is to observe its color.
A whole green or unripe papaya can last for 4 to 6 days in a cool, dry, and dark place, assuming you have left the fruit on your kitchen’s countertop. If you have it refrigerated in the crisper, it can last up to 6 to 9 days.
Ripe papaya can stay under room temperature within 2 to 3 days. Once you cut your papaya fruit open, you will only have it for a few hours under room temperature. After that, your papaya will get mushy and unappealing for consumption. If you placed it in a closed container and kept it in the fridge, it can stay there for 2 to 3 days before it spoils.
In the freezer, frozen papaya can last up to one year.
As for a dried pack of papaya fruit, it can last in your pantry or refrigerator for more than 1 year as long as the package is still unopened.
How to tell if it has already gone bad?
It is crucial that you should know how to tell if your papaya is already spoiled or if it is still safe for consumption. Here’s what you should look for:
If you happen to see white spots when you slice the papaya fruit open, those are likely mold growing inside the fruit. How did that get there, though? These types of molds begin in the stem area and then spread going inside the fruit. You can cut away the affected area as long as the rest of the papaya flesh is healthy, firm, and sweet-smelling. But if you opt for the safer way, discard it and replace it with a new fruit.