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Carica papaya


Papaya, a golden, mango-like fruit filled with small black seeds, is another of those fruits that you’ll only find imported, but What’s Fresh has included it due to its popularity.

The papaya available in New Zealand is imported from either Fiji or the Cook Islands, and while the name ‘pawpaw’ is often used interchangeably, the true pawpaw is an unrelated wild American fruit.

There are two main types of papaya: the larger yellow ‘Waimanalo’ with orange flesh, which mainly comes from the Cook Islands, and the smaller, sweeter ‘Sunrise’ that mainly comes from Fiji.

Papaya contains vitamins A, C and E, folate, potassium, magnesium, and fibre. Papaya also contains an enzyme called papain, which breaks down protein and can be used to tenderise meat, like the actinidin found in kiwifruit. Papain also stops gelatine from setting, so papaya is a bad choice of fruit to add to jellies.

Choose papaya that’s bright yellow in colour and gives slightly to gentle pressure. It does continue to ripen after it’s been picked, but if the fruit wasn’t on the tree long enough the flavour won’t be as good, so leave any that have any green on them. Slight spotting isn’t a concern, but avoid fruit that has bruising or is too soft. Store your papaya in the fridge and use it within two days. If you need to store cut papaya, cover it in cling film because it has a strong smell and everything else in the fridge will smell like papaya.



Papayas are native to Central America and have been used there for centuries. They were introduced to other subtropical countries such as India and the Phillippines by Spanish and Portuguese explorers in the 16th century. By the mid-17th century, papaya was all around the tropics, but it was only introduced to the United States and Hawaii in the 20th century.


Use papaya as you would melon, either on its own with lime juice or in dishes such as smoothies and fruit salads. Add it as close to serving as you can, as it has a tendency to soften other fruit.


In South East Asia, papaya is used unripe and green as a vegetable.

The seeds in papaya are edible, and have a peppery taste. In some countries they’re ground and used as a substitute for black pepper.

Papaya leaves can be used as a tea, with similar purported health benefits to Japanese green tea.

Passion Fruit »« Oranges: Valencia


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