The Easy Way To Tell When Your Papaya Is Ripe

Generally speaking, papayas are a type of tropical fruit that offers a refreshing, sweet flavor. Though they are native to Mexico and South America, papayas grow in other places, too, among them Hawaii, Florida, California, and Texas, per Britannica – but that doesn't mean that all papayas have the same characteristics. For instance, Hawaiian papayas differ from Mexican papayas, per Nature's Produce; they are significantly smaller, have a stronger flavor, and have orange or pink meat. But suffice it to say, no matter where they originate or the differences between types, papayas are delicious.

In addition to its delicious flavor, the papaya also provides a host of health benefits, according to Medical News Today. One of their major health-oriented, positive attributes is the inclusion of antioxidants such as zeaxanthin and beta-carotene. Zeaxanthin helps improve eye health, and beta-carotene is known to decrease the risk of asthma and is thought to decrease the risk of cancer. Papaya is also an adequate source of vitamin K, fiber, and a number of other nutrients. With their sweet flavor and health benefits, it's easy to see why everyone should have papaya in their refrigerator. And if you're looking for the perfect papaya in the grocery store, you probably didn't know there's an easy way to tell when it's ripe.

How to tell when your papaya is ripe

According to Medical News Today, the easiest way to tell when your papaya is ripe is by its color. If you're shopping for papaya in the supermarket, you may notice that the fruit typically has green skin. But don't be tricked into thinking it's ready to eat — this green color signifies that it has not yet come to fruition (pun intended). When papayas ripen, their color normally transitions from green to yellow; it's only when your papaya is completely yellow that it'll be ready to cut into and eat.

Color aside, the change in a papaya's firmness also signals when it's fully ready to consume. Green papayas are firm, whereas yellow papayas are usually slightly soft. (But buyer beware: Yellow papayas can become overly soft if they overripen.) Another sign of an overripe papaya is an excessively sweet aroma, per the University of Wyoming. You definitely want to avoid overripe papayas, as they lack their sweet, juicy flavor. Depending on how green they are when you buy them, papayas generally ripen within one to three days, as the University of Wyoming also points out, so it's very important to monitor papayas to take advantage of their sweet flavor.

How to eat papaya

You can always eat papaya by itself. Papaya has seeds, so you can always choose to scoop those out, but it's important to note that the seeds are edible, per Medical News Today. (They do have a peppery flavor, though, so if that seems like something you're not interested in, you can always skip out on that.)

Though papaya is delicious on its own, it's a versatile fruit that works well in several dishes. If you're looking for a quick and easy dish, you could make a fruit salad with papaya. According to Medical News Today, papaya pairs especially well with pineapple and mango, but you can obviously eat it with any fruit you like. (If you want something fresh and spicy that can easily incorporate all of those aforementioned fruits, you can always make papaya salsa.) Regardless of how you choose to eat papaya, remember to always check the color of the fruit to determine if it's ripe.