This recipe is a super delicious tropical treat. Like plantains, persimmon and starfruit, papaya is a practical fruit on our boat because it is one of the fruits we can buy under-ripe at the grocery store, and then hold onto for a couple weeks until it’s ripe.
Identifying a Ripe Papaya
Here’s how to tell when a papaya is ripe, in pictures. The leftmost photo is from LeeAnn on SV Longer Days (HoboSailor.com), who texted me this morning to ask about her papaya. The other two are papayas I had aboard.
There are plenty of recipes for green papaya salad and other dishes that work best with the more mild flavor of a firm green papaya, but I like papaya best when it is extra sweet and it’s flesh is salmon colored.
Caution: Don’t throw out a papaya that gets spotty. What looks like a bad papaya is actually quite tasty! If you remove the bad spots, you are left with really sweet pieces. This is my favorite time to eat them.
The Perfect(ly Easy) Papaya Recipe
This recipe was introduced to me on our 2016 Bahamas cruise trip by Ben and Sylvia Olson (who live aboard a really cool aluminum sailboat named Whisper). I had had papaya before, but it was sticky and musky, and not very pleasant. But when they served it to me cubed and soaked in lime juice, it was wonderful, like a bowl of sunshine. It’s great for breakfast or for a light fruity dessert, and a great food to bring to potlucks because it only gets better as it sits on the lime juice.
The recipe is easy:
- 1 ripe papaya
- 1 lime
(You’ll need equal numbers of papayas and limes. 1 papaya and 1 lime, or half of each, or 3 papayas and 3 limes, if you’re making this for a big group)
- Cut the papaya in half and scoop out the seeds. I often eat only half of a papaya at a time, so I cut mine shortwise, so I can store the rest flesh-side-down on a cutting board in the kitchen. (Note: If you live on land in a subtropical or tropical area, like we do in Florida, plant the seeds in the ground and in a year or so, you’ll have papaya trees and small papayas!)
- Cut the skin off of the papaya. You can use a vegetable peeler or a knife.
- Cut the papaya into cubes. Place the cubes in a bowl or Tupperware.
- Juice the lime over the top of the papaya, and mix gently to coat each piece. We use a Mexican lime squeezer like this one
- Serve and eat! This recipe is best served fresh, but you can also store the pieces in a Tupperware in the fridge for a couple days.
Variations and Serving Suggestions
Although it is perfect as-is, I’m looking forward to trying variations on this recipe, perhaps adding some chili powder or other spice to make it both spicy and sweet.
Check out meals we have made with papaya: (link coming soon).