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Exploring Womanhood > Heart of the Home > Cooking > Fruits & Vegetables

Papayas
by Jennifer A. Wickes

History / Geography:
The papaya is native to Central and South America.

Science:
Carica papaya
Otherwise known as: mamao, papaw and tree melon.

Varieties:
There are two types of papayas: Hawaiian and Mexican. The Hawaiian Papaya is pear-shaped with a yellow skin. The flesh can be orange to pink with black seeds in the center. The Hawaiian Papaya can weigh up to a pound. The Mexican Papaya has a green skin and a salmon colored flesh, and is not as sweet as the Hawaiian. The Mexican Papaya can weigh up to 10 pounds.

Season:
Summer

How to Select:
When selecting papayas, choose the ones with unblemished skins with healthy colors. The papaya should be heavy for its size and give a little when pressed. Avoid excessively hard papayas or ones that are too soft. Papayas with dark spots have deep bruising and should be avoided.

Storage:
Store in a refrigerator in a plastic bag for three days.

Nutritional Qualities:
Vitamins A and C.

Trivia
The fruit and the leaves contain papain which is an enzyme that helps tenderize meats, as well as stimulate digestion.

When the papaya is unripe, it is usually cooked and treated like a vegetable. When allowed to ripen, it is usually eaten fresh as a fruit.

In Guatamala, men eat papayas as an aphrodisiac.

Wine Pairings:
Chardonnay

Flavor Affinities
Ripe: banana, coconut, lemon, lime, mango, melon, nectarine, orange, passion fruit, pineapple.
Unripe: garlic, ginger, rice wine, scallions, soy sauce.

Equivalencies:
1 medium papaya = 10 - 12 ounces = 1.5 - 2 cups chopped

Preparation:
Cut the papaya lengthwise and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Eat with a spoon, or peel the skin off and slice. The seeds may be eaten, or thrown away. Ripen in a brown paper bag.

Additional Information (Web Sites):
Mango Season
Papaya Fruit Facts

Recipes

Prosciutto and Papaya
by Jennifer A. Wickes
2005

1 papaya
12 slices of prosciutto
1 lime
4 teaspoons capers
freshly ground black pepper

Peel the papaya.

Cut the papaya in half. Using a spoon, remove the black seeds. Discard the skin and seeds.

Slice the papaya into 12 slices. Arrange 3 per plate in a decorative fashion.

Roll three slices of prosciutto per plate and arrange decoratively.

Place a piece of lime on each plate.

Scatter 1 teaspoon of capers per plate and add some pepper to the proscuitto.

Serve as an appetizer on a warm day with a glass of Chardonnay.

Yields: 4 servings

Tropical Fruit Salad

3 mango, peeled, seeded, and cut to a medium dice
3 papaya, peeled, seeded, and cut to a medium dice
1 pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut to a medium dice
3 banana, peeled and bias-sliced to 1/2-inch
1/2 cup shredded coconut, freshly
1/2 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped
2 cups flavored yogurt, pineapple
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, strained

Sprinkle fruit with lemon juice. Combine fruit, coconut, and macadamia nuts-toss lightly to mix. Cover and chill. Serve chilled, with pineapple yogurt to the side.

Yields: 16 servings

PawPaw Montespan

Traditionally eaten in Bermuda.

4 green pawpaws, skinned and diced
1 tomato, thinly sliced
1 Bermuda onion, thinly sliced, fried
1/2 pound ground round, browned and drained
grated cheddar cheese

Cook pawpaws until tender. Mash and put a layer into a greased baking dish. Cover with a thin layer of tomatoes, then meat and onion, then cheese. Repeat theselayers until all ingredients have been used. Finish with pawpaw, sprinkle with cheese. Cover with bread crumbs. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.

Jennifer A. Wickes is a freelance food writer, researcher and cookbook reviewer. She has written several eBooks, and has had numerous articles and recipes in printed publications, as well as on-line. She is working on her first cookbook. For more information about Jennifer or her work, please visit her Home Page: http://home.comcast.net/~culinaryjen/Home.html

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