Early summer is peak season for many fruits, including the papaya, a pear-shaped fruit that resembles a melon, but is technically a berry. Our greenhouse experts recently harvested some of the tasty fruit, which has us buzzing about not only its delicious flavor but its added health benefits, as well. The papaya is a juicy and sweet fruit that is similar to a melon in texture and flavor. Papayas are typically harvested right before they fully ripen. When harvesting or shopping for papayas, make sure to select the fruit which have already started to turn yellow and yield to gentle pressure Do not harvest or purchase the fruit if it is hard, completely green, or shriveled. Once you have made a selection, they will need to finish ripening at home. To do this, place them in a dark closet or cabinet at room temperature for two to three days. To speed up the process, place the papayas in a closed paper bag.
Papayas are great when tossed into a salad or even served halved and hollowed out with chicken or tuna salad in the center for a tropical take on the classics. Papaya is also great on the grill. Add chunks of shrimp or scallop kabobs, then throw them on the grill for a perfect summer dinner. They can also be used as an edible bowl for a delicious summer fruit salad. The seeds of the papaya have a unique, peppery flavor, and many people often dry them for use in spice grinders, as well.
In addition to their delicious taste, papayas have numerous health benefits. In fact, papayas are referred to as one the healthiest fruits in the world. If eaten on a regular basis, papayas can act as a weight loss supplement, supplying the body with nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and pantothenic acids. Vitamins A and C help prevent heart disease and the oxidation of cholesterol, minimizing the risk of heart attack or stroke. The vitamins found in papayas also help build a healthy immune system and prevent common illnesses. Papayas have proven not only to be a tasty addition to any meal, but a healthy addition to your diet as well!