Papaya Shelf Life: How Long Does Papaya Last?

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Shelf Life of Papaya

Papaya is the native fruit of Mexico and South America. Around the world, it is also grown in other tropical areas. Due to imported crops, fresh papaya is available in most markets all year round. Nectar of Papaya is available in canned and bottled as well. The seeds of papaya, known as the peppery seeds are also edible, but the skin is not. Choosing the ripest fruit is the best bet for getting the most flavor as most papaya that gets consumed in the United States travels a long distance. Under suitable topical conditions, ripe papaya exhibits a shelf life of less than one week whereas a plant may live for five years or more.

Purchasing Papaya

When it comes to purchasing of papaya, it is important to know how the papaya looks like. The average papaya weighs up to one to two pounds and is six inches long, but it can also weigh up to twenty pounds. Purchase papaya which is bearing a yellow color with a bit of green color and let the fruit completely ripen at home.

When the papaya is fully ripened it becomes yellow, it should feel heavy for a blemish free smooth skin. A few black or moldy spots are fine as long as they are not a result of cuts or bruises and they will not affect the flavor. Nose plays a very important role when it comes to the selection of ripened papaya since they have a sweet aroma. Soft fruit, if purchased, should be pureed immediately.

Storing Papaya

To slow down the ripening of papayas, they should be refrigerated. They can ripen within a few days at room temperature, even faster if kept in a paper bag. They can quickly turn to mush if they aren’t properly stored. While the fruit ripens, leave the skin on. To freeze the papaya, first, peel it and slice pieces lengthwise then scoop the seeds out. Pack into plastic freezer bags or rigid containers. Freeze up to ten months by covering them in a sugar solution.  

Handling Papaya

Papaya requires harvesting and packing once a week at least all year round, and it is a labor-intensive crop. The best temperature to store and transport papaya is 13°C. Ethylene gas is also used to ripen papayas. There is a protein-digesting enzyme in the milky juice of the unripe fruit known as papain which resembles the action of pepsin. This juice is used in the manufacturing of meat tenderizers and for indigestion remedies. For the firming of gelatin use on cooked or pasteurized papaya juice.

Cooking Papaya

Green fruits preferred for cooking while ripe papaya is best when eaten raw. Scooped papaya halves best served alongside chicken or fruit as a serving dish. For a delightful different side dish, bake papaya bearing green color with honey and cinnamon. For a quick fresh fruit dessert, take half papaya and sprinkle lemon juice and sugar on it. To prevent the enzymes of papaya for softening the others, try adding it last minute to the dish. Papaya seeds also used as pepper substitutes. Pureed papaya also tenderizes meat and poultry and marinates for a tropical flavor. Over-ripened papayas are also used as a sauce for ice creams or pancakes. Drain the white acidic sap, before using it as a substitution for squash.