RIPE PAPAYA ALERT!
I don’t have much experience with papayas yet, but I’m starting to get the hang of them. When a neighbor gave us a papaya two springs ago, I had never actually held a whole one in my hand before. Honestly, it didn’t taste all that great, but if you put enough sugar on anything you can acquire a taste for it right away. Papayas are famously good for our health, and are incredibly rich in antioxidants, so I felt obligated to appreciate the gift. Gardening is one of my favorite pastimes and when I saw all those seeds inside it, it was a challenge I couldn’t resist! I was then advised by the same neighbor to never touch a papaya seed by my skin, or it will only produce a male tree. I’m not superstitious, but I took the advice seriously and never touched the seeds except with a spoon. It took forever for the seeds to germinate, but my patience paid off. All my baby papaya trees that I grew on the back sunroof are now growing very nicely in the land where Mohamed transplanted them just about one year ago. (Click here to see the photos in a previous post)
Papaya trees grow incredibly fast, and even more amazingly, they produce fruit from their first flowering cycle! They went from slender seedlings to tender transplants and then blossomed into a papaya jungle!
Never imagining they would make fruit so soon, I turned my back on those transplants last spring, and moved to something else I could grow on the roof. What a big surprise to find them full of papayas in the summer! Then they began to ripen, and I really didn’t have a clue what to do with them…
Juice seemed like a pretty obvious first choice, so I picked a few big ripe papayas and headed for the kitchen. This is the shortcut version of how to process papaya, now that I’ve spent the summer up to my elbows in papaya pulp. Believe me, it didn’t come that easily, but experience is an awesome teacher in the end. My deep freezer is now crammed with recycled 2 litre soda bottles of delicious papaya juice ready to thaw and drink. Yum!
So wash the papaya and slice it in half:
Then scoop the seeds out with a spoon. It’s pretty similar to removing the seeds from a cantaloupe, and when you’re done, it looks like this:
Next, hold the half papaya in one hand over the mouth of your blender, and with your other hand use the spoon to scoop the pulp into the blender. This is pretty similar to scooping icecream, the papaya is soft and juicy. I couldn’t take a photo without a third hand, so I set it down for this photo:
After you’ve filled the blender as full as you dare, add just enough water to barely cover the pulp. Pulse the blender a few times until it’s all starting to blend well, and then let it blend on high until it’s all consistently blended:
Now you’ve got a base to make many nice papaya treats. Pour the pulp into a pitcher to make it easier to measure what you need for a recipe, or for filling up plastic containers to save in the freezer.
To make papaya juice, return about 4 or 5 cups of the pulp to the blender, or fill to about half the blender. To drink it like an Egyptian, which means creamy thick and incredibly sweet, for every cup of water you add to the pulp in the blender you must add one cup of sugar. I add about 3 cups of water and 3 cups of sugar. Then cap it tightly and blend till the sugar is completely melted and the juice is thick and creamy… mmmm mmmm good!
Another delicious thing to do with the papaya pulp is substitute it for banana mush in a banana bread or muffin recipe. Or better yet, combine it with banana mush in the same recipe, and throw in some golden raisins, too!
I didn’t take photos of the process, but here’s my favorite recipe for
Banana Papaya Bread with Golden Raisins
Combine in a bowl and set aside:
6 cups flour (could be 4 white/2 whole wheat)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 cups golden raisins (could be chopped nuts)
Beat until creamy in a big mixing bowl:
2 cups sugar
2 cups honey (could be molasses, corn syrup, date molasses, or even jelly)
4 tsp vanilla
Then add a total of 6 cups of papaya pulp and banana mush (could be any fruit mush, or shredded carrots or zucchini, too)
Then add in the flour mix and stir well to combine everything.
Grease 8 or 9 small aluminum loaf pans, or just use a sheet cake pan, and fill up to within 1 1/2 cm’s from the top.
Bake at 350 F for about 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes back out dry. A sheet cake pan will take quite a bit longer than the loaf pans.
By the way, the honey or syrup, whatever you use in this recipe, takes the place of any fat, so this is a very healthy dish!
I love to eat this Papaya Banana Bread with Golden Raisins for breakfast:
Guess what! It won’t be long and I’ll have another ripe fruit alert for you… see: