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Papaya Storage and Selection

Papayas are highly perishable but their shelf life can be extended

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Papaya
Lisa Marie Thompson/Photolibrary/Getty Images

Papaya Selection

Fresh papaya fruit is available year-round in most markets, thanks to imported crops. Papaya nectar is available canned and bottled. Some markets also carry chopped fruit in juice in the cold case of the produce department near the juices. The peppery seeds are edible, yet the skin is not.

Although the papaya fruit can weigh in up to a whopping twenty pounds, the average papaya in the market is about six inches long and weighs from one to two pounds.

Select fruits that are mostly yellow with a bit of green and let them fully ripen at home. When fully ripe, the skin is bright yellow. Unripe fruit will be an overall light yellowish-green, but not completely green.

Ripe fruit should be firm yet yield to gently pressure, feel heavy for its size and have smooth skin with no blemishes. As long as not a result of bruises or cuts, a few black or moldy spots are perfectly okay and will not affect the flavor of the flesh.

As with most fruits, use your nose. The ripe papaya should have a sweet aroma. Avoid fruits that are overly soft unless you intend to puree them and use immediately.

Papaya Storage

Ripe papayas should be refrigerated to slow down the ripening process. Papayas will ripen within a few days at room temperature, and even faster if you put them in a paper bag. Once ripe, this fruit will quickly turn to mush if not properly stored.

Place ripe, whole fruit in a plastic bag in the refrigerator, and it should last about a week.

To freeze, peel the papaya, slice lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Cut into pieces and pack into rigid containers or heavy duty plastic freezer bags. Cover with a 30 percent sugar solution (4 cups water to 2 cups sugar) and freeze up to ten months.

The thawed fruit will be soft so you may wish to use it in a partially-thawed state for fresh use applications. It will be fine for cooking purposes, although not quite as firm as fresh. You can also pop the thawed fruit into the blender for a puree or add a bit of water for a juice.

More about Papayas and Papaya Recipes:

What are papayas?
Papaya Storage and Selection
Papaya Cooking Tips
Papaya Recipes
Papaya Photo © 2007 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.

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